In sales we have a mantra … “never confuse activity with productivity”. This is to say that, while you have demonstrated the ability to maintain an extreme level of activity, not being able to hit your target numbers demonstrates that those efforts have not been devoted to productive pursuits. Kind of like the graphic to the left … 9 arrows (activity), 0 bulls eyes (productivity). Social Media has the great potential to become the poster child of this lack of productivity scenario. Potential? Hell, for a lot of us we have already reached that goal and gone far beyond it (smile). So, how do we turn this around? What’s missing from the equation?
Everybody has an agenda with social media but the only agenda that I am remotely qualified to discuss is my own. I’m not doing this because it is fun (even though it can be). It’s not for my ego. I don’t even expect to make money directly through the use of this medium. I look at social media strictly from the standpoint that it is, should be, another arrow in my quiver of networking weapons. As Justin Foster from Tricycle Brand Development has so correctly phrased it .. “Old rules, new tools”. Social Media is a great tool for personal branding but what good is your brand if nobody is buying? Perhaps a portion of my dilemma is that I don’t do marketing, I do sales. As a sales person I am trained to go out and get that which is mine. You only think that it belongs to you or to another company. I consider it a temporary loan (smile). I do this by creating, maintaining, and improving relationships with others. I do this in person, on the phone, with old fashioned email, or with even more old fashioned “snail mail”. It’s what works for me.
I have spent a good portion of the last 9 months studying social media and during that time have found many tools that make the activity itself more productive and less time-consuming. In terms of productive results, not so much. This is my own fault. I remember early on in my career when I was expected to make 30 plus door to door sales calls daily. I would go back to my desk with my business cards that I had collected during the day, transfer that information to 3 x 5 cards, and place those in my tickler file for further follow-up and review. Every day I did this and my file grew. My sales did not. While I was indeed active, I was not productive. I failed to make the transition from activity to results.
Today I have over 1,000 followers on Twitter, 170 connections on LinkedIn (linking me to close to 3 million others), and about 100 friends on FaceBook. That’s a fair number of 3 x 5 cards (smile). I would venture that I actually know less than 10% of these people. And, the reason that I don’t know more of these people is that I have failed to consistently engage directly with those who I need to in order to accomplish my goals. I am so busy collecting names, I rarely take the opportunity to speak, one on one, with most of them. I’m even lamer than I had first suspected (smile).
Before I discuss my new rules for direct engagement, I did want to share with you a curious observation. I have found that many of those who are the heaviest users of social media, even power users, are loath to engage with you directly. They don’t return phone calls or respond to emails. The funniest part is, this behavior places them squarely in line with the bulk of the business community. Did somebody knock off “Miss Manners” while I was not looking (smile)? They do, however, tweet and post with great regularity. They may be quite adept at inviting you to events, suggesting you become fans of this page or that, DM you on Twitter occasionally, or communicate with you through mediums like iContact or Constant Contact. All of these have one thing in common and one thing only … through the magic of automation, you and 1,ooo of their closest friends are all receiving exactly the same message and at exactly the same time. Now, don’t you feel special (smile)?
Personally, to date, I have used none of these aforementioned automated methods or tools. I do not leave my desk at night until I have personally responded to every email and every voice message. I don’t always have the answers right away but at least I acknowledge receipt. That’s not 100% accurate. I consistently do not respond to automated communication. Fact is, those types of messages typically do nothing more than irritate me. However, they do have their proper place and usage. What those might be are left to your personal interpretation. So, here is my plan for direct engagement … And, I am going to keep this simple. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid, or salesman, your choice (smile).
- Review my Twitter, LinkedIn, and FaceBook connections and categorize each into business or personal relationships.
- Further subdivide those business relationships based on their potential to produce tangible results.
- Formulate a plan and evaluate my available tools to initiate direct engagement with these business connections.
- Directly engage with a minimum of 20 of these weekly.
Right now, I am like a kid who is so focused on collecting toy soldiers that I have no time to play with them (smile). That is about to change. If you have not already figured this out, the key element and that ingredient I feel that is most missing in social media is the willingness, and effort, on the part of most individuals to directly engage. Yesterday I created a poll and posted it on Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn. I asked the multiple choice question “What is the one element of your social media experience that is missing?”. Well, the results are in. One person took the poll and said that he or she could not figure out how to make social media work for them. I rest my case (smile).
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