Nurture your network or lose it.
We all know “those” people—the ones who only reach out when they want something. The people who drop off the face of the earth until they need a referral or want an introduction to someone in your network. After a while, don’t you find yourself thinking, “What have you done for me lately?”
You don’t want to be one of those people. It’s easy to get so caught up in developing new relationships that we forget about the existing ones, at least until we need something from them. Big mistake!
DON’T Cold Call on Social Media
Please don’t invite me to connect on LinkedIn if you just want to sell me something. Social media is a great tool for researching prospects and Referral Sources, and for positioning yourself as a thought leader. But it is not the place for a sales pitch. If you’re sending sales offerings to strangers on social media, you’re pretty much cold calling.
And never, ever ask me for a referral introduction on LinkedIn. You’re jeopardizing our relationship. You’re assuming I want to refer you, but I only refer people I know well and trust implicitly to take care of my connections as I would. Until you actually reach out and talk to me, you don’t even know how I’m connected to the person you want to meet or if I even know the person well enough to make a referral introduction.
DON’T Be the Life of the Party
Remember the days when people accepted every LinkedIn invitation? We felt special and included. It was like we were back in high school, vying for acceptance and popularity, and any invite was a good invite. We were finally going to the big party!
Well, sales is not a party. Selling is about building relationships, not having the most LinkedIn connections. For social selling, you actually have to be social, which means getting off your computer.
DO Be a Valuable Connection
Once you’ve done the groundwork to earn someone’s trust and friendship, don’t waste that effort by neglecting to stay in touch until you want something. Make an effort to reach out to all the people in your professional network on at least a semi-regular basis. Find out what’s going on with them. Ask how you can help. Share your insights. And while you’re at it, ask for referrals.
In his book, The Start-Up of You, LinkedIn’s executive chairman and cofounder Reid Hoffman says the best way to strengthen a relationship is to ask how you can help another person. He writes, “The second best way is to let yourself be helped. As Ben Franklin recommended, ‘If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.’”
Make nurturing relationships a priority. Keep reaching out and preserving your most valuable sales asset—your relationships.