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Social Networks and job searching

Yes, social media can be used a career tool and social communication utility, however it has become a particularly useful platform for enabling sales professionals to develop their reputation as well as earn trust for their brand, service or product. As a professional in your field you are able, through your network, to position yourself as an expert or ‘thought leader’ in your field whilst continually adding value to targeted prospects in your industry.

If you have a basic idea of how and why social media can benefit you it is likely that you are already looking for practical advice about what each of the social media tools can do for you specifically. This article takes you through the ‘BIG 3’ of the social media world – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and gives you information about what is possible and what you could be doing on each of the sites to ensure you’re making the most out of the resources available to you.
 

Linkedin

At present most would argue and we would agree that Linkedin is the best social media tool out there for business professionals looking to ultimately increase sales. This is largely because it is possible and easier to measure the direct correlation between sales and hours spent on Linkedin than the correlation between sales and activity on other social media sites. Linkedin provides us with a vast array of contacts which are directly relevant to you and your industry and allows you to develop relationships through this network which give you ‘permission’ to approach prospects (or ‘connections’) and develop any relationships made through a variety of tools.

Throughout your network you can:

  • Manage your personal details
  • Locate relevant prospects and initiate contact- gaining direct access to decision makers
  • Discover business opportunities and be discovered
  • Gain industry specific information from discussions with similar contemporaries in private group settings
  • Post details of your product or service
  • Position yourself as an expert

Top tips for using Linkedin for business

Spend at least 20 minutes a day searching for contacts in your industry

Join groups- but remember the old saying “go where the fish are.” This means that it is more worthwhile to join groups that have potential prospects as members rather than groups in which there are a bunch of other people looking for the same prospects as you- that said, don’t rule out the possibility of linking up with people in your industry for the benefit of creating a ‘strategic alliance’ if you believe your company may benefit in doing so.

Write recommendations for people- they will often return the favour and respond with a recommendation- these are invaluable for a sales person where trust is often a big concern for someone buying a product or service. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations either- if you don’t ask you don’t get and this is certainly true in this instance. Don’t forget the value of recommendations for use when you do decide to move on from your current position as these will act as fantastic references for potential employers looking to recruit sales professionals. You can also gain great sales advice and career tips from fellow professionals in your network.

Linkedin provides you with the opportunity to get to know your prospects- their challenges, trends they see, how they’re approaching industry challenges, how the economy or season is affecting them

Post informative updates to your page and start to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry (this can tie in nicely with your blogging and other social media endeavours).

Reconnect with people you thought you’d never see or speak to again- one of the great benefits of using Linkedin for business is that it gives you the ability to ‘take your clients with you’ legitimately, without any contractual conditions which are often set out in your agreement with your previous employer.

Linkedin has a useful ‘poll’ function which allows you to post a question on any subject you like and it will poll your network and the greater Linkedin community for answers- if you pay attention to who is contributing on what you may find yourself in contact with potential partners.
 

Facebook

Facebook is probably the most talked about social media web service/platform right now, however it is also one of the most misunderstood. Many business professionals are already finding Facebook an essential addition to their web working tool box and the reason is because Facebook social networking experience can be precisely what you make of it. It doesn’t matter that thousands of teenagers use it to catch up with their school friends and arrange parties and share photos. It is what you make it- think of it as a professional tool. You decide what you want it to do for you.

There are a number of ways you can make it work for you:

Create awareness about your service or product- this is one of the first steps towards creating real sales activity in your Facebook endeavours and can be carried out a number of ways; 1. Use targeted adverts 2. Spread information virally- make sure you have great content and then make sure everyone knows about it! Make the content good enough that people want to share it!

Take advantage of what you already have- Many people don’t take advantage of their own websites- especially if you are already generating a lot of traffic to your website it is important to take advantage of this and point people to your Facebook page (this can also be applied to Linkedin and Twitter of course). Don’t be afraid that by directing people away from your site they’ll never come back- so long as you have strategies to direct them back to your website again, you’ll be fine!

Educate your visitors- Who are you? what do you sell? Try to humanise your business and yourself as much as possible- people relate best to people and not to too much ‘industry speak.’ Your potential customers want to know that you are a real person- try to communicate as a real person and not as a corporate robot. Ensure they know you are selling something and what that something is. This can be done either in the ‘info’ tab or anywhere your visitors can gain access to it easily. Give your visitors to your profile reasons to become a fan- add value to their lives by providing really useful information that is hard to find elsewhere.

Engage with your visitors and fans. This can range from ‘liking’ someone’s update to commenting on their updates or other activities. What you really want to be able to do is create a dialogue with a prospect (or other) that the public can see and that will provide you with an opportunity to assert yourself as an expert as well as give (subtle!) plugs for your service or product. Direct advertising about your product or service is not advisable as this has proven to be much less beneficial than the relationship building exercises. Engagement is vital on Facebook and whilst it is difficult to measure ROI in terms of time (and therefore money) spent it will provide an excellent platform to base the sales of your product or service upon.

Although measuring engagement on Facebook can be a slightly tedious task, measuring the action taken by your fans shouldn’t be. So long as you have carried out the above steps properly you should find that the amount of people who value your page is rising. However there is no point in carrying out all of the above if you don’t have some kind of data capture requests that enable the prospect to make a purchase, join a site or any other form of measurable action. Most people are not ready to buy when they join a fan page and it is up to you to give them regular opportunities to do so. Once you have got your prospects to respond to a call to action (sign up to a newsletter, visit your website etc) it is vital that you continue to engage them as part of your relationship marketing strategy on Facebook.

You’ve already subtly introduced calls to action and now that some users have taken those calls to action, you need to engage them. We are in the business of building relationships and Facebook provides an optimal environment for doing just that.

The Facebook Sales process is an elongated one which entails engaging the user throughout the entire sales process (starting with their PR-purchase experience). Ultimately each business needs to determine what the best strategy is for them based on the resources available but the Facebook sales process will help you to generate valuable customer relationships, not just one-time customers.
 

Twitter

Twitter, although a much simpler to use tool than Facebook, it does cause dilemmas in business and sales professionals who don’t quite know how to get the best out of the tool for their business. Very much like the other social networking facilities Twitter is better used as a Marketing or PR tool where your company can Tweet about corporate accomplishments and send out links to your corporate web pages and other relevant or linked sites.

As a Twitter user you have 140 characters to answer the question, “What are you doing?” You can “follow” other Twitter users, which causes their updates to appear on your home page and in turn, they can follow you, a form of permission-based marketing. You can also direct message them, but always in 140 characters or less.

One of the key things to remember with Twitter is that in using it you are aiming to build brand recognition and reputation and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about doing this; Avoid self-serving and self-promotional tweets- these are more likely to hinder your image than assist with any sales or marketing efforts. Instead try to humanise your Twitter profile- people want to know they are dealing with people.

If you are tweeting positive messages (and this can include your whole organisation) you can create a real positive feel to your company if relevant; This can include tweets about developments in your industry, new products or other interesting facts that engage the audience.

Twitter provides us with the ability to engage potential customers and get their attention and as a business we are able to gain exposure for a blog/site and gain potential readers. In doing so we are able to build networks with transparency and trust which is ultimately what will increase your sales.

The interactive and real-time nature of Twitter for business means you are able to market work, products, services, etc, answer questions and ask questions and learn new things from other industry professionals at any time of the day and get responses fast. It is effectively a conference connector and will allow you to seek out industry colleagues for assistance with special projects You can  get technical tips and resources (mini blog post) and is a useful real time online place to meet and talk with others in order to be building relationships.

Twitter also allows you to learn more about social media itself and if you choose to seek it out you can find up to the minute details on new advances in Twitter for business.

There are a number of key steps you will find will become part of your Twitter plan. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Base level step- Create a professional Twitter account.

Complete your Twitter profile and ensure it has your company’s URL in it. Include a picture of yourself as this tends to work better than a company logo as people like to know they are dealing with real people.

  • Build a base of followers- This can be done by including a ‘Follow Me’ symbol on your website, forums, signature etc. Ensure you invite people to follow you on Twitter every time you post a blog on there. 

  • Provide information about your business- It sounds obvious but it is essential that you provide enough detail about what your company does and what products or services it has on an ongoing basis. Advertising directly on posts you make can put people off and may lose you a few followers but in posts that you do make ensure people are able to access information about your business if relevant to your post. For example if your company sells mobile phones you may wish to include articles/blogs on ‘choosing the right phone for you.’

  • Ensure you maintain a balance between your followers and following ratio- Your followers won’t follow you for very long if you don’t follow them so make sure you reciprocate. The best way to do this is to add followers gradually instead of adding 100-200 at a time.

  • Offer unique deals to your followers- A fantastic way to use Twitter for Business is to offer discounts to followers as part of your business marketing campaign. Use a brief message describing the offer.

  • Encourage feedback from your Twitter followers- Encourage followers to comment on issues that are important to your company. Don’t worry about negative feedback as it is inevitable in every business that there will be some negative feedback for a particular product or service. Ensure however that you  thank people for their feedback. Engaging with followers is vital to generate interest in you and your product.

As a progressive business and sales professional looking to advance your career it is likely that social media will be a valuable, and potentially unavoidable part of your day to day and long term business efforts, therefore staying in the loop about advancements in the social media world will help you to have peace of mind that you will are doing what you should be.

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment like to keep their candidates and clients up to date on all issues relating to the industry. We provide a substantial amount of free information in the Tools section of our website that could be useful for you or your business.

Please feel free to take a look. If you need any further advice as an employer or a candidate on this or any other relevant issues, please feel free to visit our website or contact us directly on 01908 061400.

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