From time to time I feature a guest blogger, this is one of those times.
I sent a tweet asking for new clients. It worked almost like magic. My tweet spurred a tweet from an interested individual, and then a phone call with the person who contracted for my services. This was one of the easiest sales I’ve ever made.
What can you learn about sales via social media from my experience? I’ve identified four lessons.
Lesson 1: If you don’t ask, you won’t receive
While you shouldn’t focus your social media content on promoting yourself, you must ensure that people know how you earn a living. This can involve an occasional explicit request for business, even if it makes you feel squeamish.
In my case, until recently I hadn’t done much to publicize via social media my availability as a speaker on effective financial writing. Not surprisingly, I’d never seen a direct connection between a single tweet and my getting booked to speak.
In the speedy sale that’s the focus of this post, I tweeted something like:
“Looking for more paid speaking gigs. Here’s where I’ve spoken: http://ht.ly/ujblY.”
What a thrill it was when one of my Twitter followers responded, asking for more information. He passed along the details to the person coordinating speakers for his chapter of the Financial Planning Association. The coordinator followed up quickly. Within one week, we reached agreement on a speaking date.
“I wish Twitter always worked this well,” I thought after landing this speaking gig. However, it’s not that easy. Indeed, what appeared to be a speedy sale rested on a relationship developed over the course of a year.
Lesson 2. You must establish trust
My seemingly speedy sale wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t built trust with my referral source. I achieved that by providing content that he found helpful.
Since my referral source subscribed to my e-newsletter about one year earlier, he had found useful ideas in my newsletters, blog posts, social media status updates, and, most recently, my book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. We’d even spoken on the phone once. Most of my social media content isn’t overtly promotional. Much of it offers practical tips that readers can apply right away. Without this history, my tweet would have yielded nothing.
If you ever despair about giving information away for free, remember that good content will pay off eventually. However, it often takes time to build relationships and establish your expertise. Plus, you must offer something your prospective clients desire.
By the way, you may ask, “Susan, couldn’t you have landed this gig without Twitter since you already had a relationship with your referral source?” Maybe, but it would have been hard since I didn’t realize that my referral source was in a position to recommend speakers. The beauty of social media is how it makes it easier for the right people to discover you.
Lesson 3. Provide links that enhance credibility
My gig-seeking tweet included a link to a list of about 30 speaking engagements that I’ve delivered across North America for corporate clients and professional societies, including the CFA Institute and the Financial Planning Association. That experience spoke loudly.
If you issue an explicit request for work, you’ll probably benefit from including a link to prove your expertise. Your link could go to a bio, case study, blog post, white paper, or something else.
Lesson 4. Social media won’t always deliver immediately
Your timing has to be right. What works one time may not deliver results the next time. Thrilled with the results of my gig-landing tweet, I repeated it. My results? Zip.
That’s okay. I don’t think my second tweet was wasted. It may have raised awareness of my presentations across a broader audience. When those folks need to hire a speaker in the future, they may be more receptive to me. In fact, I’ve landed other clients from Twitter by developing relationships with them over time. Another presentation client of mine started following me after I retweeted some of his content, but months passed before he made direct contact and started a conversation about hiring me.
My experience also points to the importance of not taking a “once and done” approach to social media. Your social media tactics differ from your old media tactics, where you sent a newsletter once and then it disappeared into your archives. Today tweets, status updates, and other content can—and should—be repeated, tweaked, and recycled across different social media platforms over time. Remember that some prospective clients and referral sources may find your content—especially blog posts—long after you originally publish it. This helps you to reach the right people at their convenience. Just don’t go overboard in repeating the same content, or you’ll drive away your audience.
If you’ve landed new business via Twitter, I’d like to learn about the secrets of your success. Please comment.
Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, which is tailored to financial planners, wealth managers, investment managers, and the marketing and communications staff that supports them. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter, Google+ or the Investment Writing Facebook page.