Your social media network isn’t your real network. Your real network is much smaller and much more valuable than your social media network. Your real relationships network is even smaller. All of these networks are different, and you need to prioritize and manage them accordingly.
Your Social Media Network
Your social media network can be a lot of fun, and it is important. You may connect with people who share a common interest. You might help promote their stuff by clicking the retweet button or the like button. You may comment on each other’s blog posts or status updates.
But this doesn’t do much to contribute to your sales efforts, except for maybe helping with some social proof, unless you do something more to make it valuable.
Just like your face-to-face networking efforts, you have to go into social media with the intention of finding a way to help other people (always creating value before claiming it).
What really makes your social media network valuable from a sales perspective is when you can move these relationships up a level. You do that by arranging to speak to the people you network with over the telephone, Skype, or a Google Plus hangout. You move your social media network from a hobby to a value-creating opportunity by arranging to meet people face-to-face when you can. You schedule a tweet-up.
You make your social media network more valuable when you get to know people, when you learn about what they can do, and when you interface enough to be able to confidently recommend them for work—and them you!
Your Real Network
You make your social media network more valuable when you move them up to your real network.
Your real network is made up the people that you know well enough to refer to other people. You know them, you know the quality of their work, and you know enough to identify the opportunities that would make sense for them. Maybe you have even done some work together.
This is a much smaller circle. It’s true that some of these people might have come out of your social media network, but this will be a much smaller, much more intimate network.
The game here is to manage this network, moving some of these connections into an even smaller circle: your relationships network.
Your Relationship Network
I am going to slice this pretty thin. This is a Dunbar’s number thing.
Your real relationships network is a small circle. It’s made up of the people with whom you have a real, personal relationship. Because we spend so much time working, some of the relationships will necessarily be business relationships.
This smallest circle is made up of the people that you really know. And they know you. They will not only refer business to you, they’ll go out of their way to identify opportunities for you (that just shrunk your circle, didn’t it?). You’ll go out of your way to identify opportunities for them.
When you think of these relationships in the way of clients, this is the list of relationships who, were they to change jobs, would take you with them. You’ve worked for them, or them you, and you have handled projects together.
When someone asks whom you know, this is the shortest of short lists. And that is reciprocal; you are at or near the top of their shortest of short list of value creators.
There isn’t any reason to pretend or behave like your social media network is your real network or your relationships network. The right way to manage these relationships is to turn your social media network into your real network, and then to convert some of those into your real relationships network.
The technology is an enabler, not a replacement for real relationships. Sales 2.0 meet Sales 1.0.
How is your social media network different from your real network? How are both of these networks different than your deep relationships network?
What do you differently to manage these different networks?
What problems are caused by overestimating the value of your social media network?
How do you increase the value of each of these networks?
In which of these networks do you spend the most time and make the largest investment?