This article was authored by Reza Saboury, a senior account development representative at Brainshark.
“Social selling”— what are the first things that come to mind when you hear that phrase?
Some people believe social selling is purely about prospecting on social channels and reaching out to potential leads via InMail on LinkedIn. But social selling has the potential to be so much more than that. Social selling is also about using social media channels to bring attention and awareness to your personal brand and most importantly, to build relationships.
But before you focus your energy on social selling, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it. If it’s to boost your ego—that’s not a strong long-term strategy. Instead, you should focus on adding value to everyone you connect with on social media.
Here are 5 ideas to consider to improve your social selling strategy:
#1. Become genuinely interested in other people
If you haven’t read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, you should. Carnegie advises readers to become genuinely interested in other people in order to stand out from the crowd. You can apply the same concept to social selling because people who are interested are interesting. And interesting people are the ones that grow a following online.
Strategically engage with others online. Comment on their posts, ask thought provoking questions, and engage in conversation. For example, if you are commenting on an article, read the article and point out something you found interesting or ask a question. Don’t just say “nice post!” That’s what the ‘like’ button is there for. The more genuine interest and attention you give to someone else, the more they are willing to hear what you have to say.
#2. Be authentic
This one is very simple, but important to remember. Don’t post articles or make assertions that you think other people want to read. It will end up backfiring, because people can read right through inauthenticity. There is nothing less appealing than acting like somebody you’re not.
When you’re being yourself, others will see consistency in what you do and what you care about. Don’t pretend to like or take an interest in something you don’t have a genuine interest in. Some people won’t appreciate who you are but by being authentic, you’ll attract the right audience, your unique audience.
Strategically follow topics and connect with people you’re actually interested in. That way, when one of your connections posts something, it’ll be something you have some insight on or appreciation for. For example, if you consistently see and agree with comments that ‘John Smith’ is making on one of your connection’s posts, extend an invitation to connect. Whatever you do, don’t connect with people just to boost your numbers. Again, this is not a strong long-term strategy.
Reza Saboury's social selling index, LinkedIn Sales Navigator's measurement of social selling effectiveness.
#3. Position yourself as a thought leader
Whether you’re a BDR or VP of sales at a Fortune 500 company, you need to be an expert in what you do. Learn about it, post about it, comment on similar articles, or write about it in a LinkedIn Pulse blog. Whatever industry you’re in, you need to be in the know on all of the latest trends and breaking news. For example, Brainshark is a leader in the sales readiness space. If industry news breaks or the company releases a new product, I try to be one of the first to share it and provide some context on what it means for sales and sales enablement teams.
That being said, it’s also important to share content from other thought leaders in your space and not just your own. Sharing others’ content prevents your account from looking overly promotional and helps you build rapport with thought leaders and influencers.
#4. No hard selling
Don’t fall into the “used car salesman” stereotype, which is all about the hard sell. Use social media as a way to connect with new people and extend your company’s brand. I have built dozens of valuable relationships with people I have never met in person, none of which would have been possible without social media.
When it comes to selling on social media, get to know potential buyers and their pain points through what they say and do online. Once you’ve built a relationship with them, help them understand how you can solve their problem. Never send a mass InMail campaign to potential buyers. If and when you do feel it’s appropriate to reach out, show them why you’re worth their time and make sure your communication is extremely customized and catered to their specific needs.
#5. Have fun
This is arguably the most important point. You won’t be successful with social selling in the long term if you’re not enjoying the process. One of the most used apps on my phone is the LinkedIn app. I pull up the app at least a few times a day to check up on my network. I’m connected with diverse groups, from humor pages to professional connections. I genuinely enjoy checking up on what’s going on in my network, so I do it consistently. As a result of doing so consistently, I’ve built a strong social presence.
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