This one has been written pretty much between the appointments of a busy week. Which is a good problem to have… as long as it’s the ‘right busy’ and not ‘too busy’….
Note – the image in this post is just an illustration of the impact of the right type of connection that can be made between people on social media. One post connected to the right people, hit over 3,000 views. I can’t know if this will lead to paying work. but it can’t be a bad thing!!!
Getting lost in a habit hole of online!!
We’ve all done it, knowingly (or unknowingly) become fixated by the stream of information being pushed to us on social media. We without realising it switch from a positive intent (as a consumer or contributor) to lost in the no-where-ness of information… considering not what ‘meaningful contribution am I making’ or ‘what meaningful information am I consuming’ to being fixated on an ‘oh look at them…’
“look at what they are doing, I wish I was doing that, why am I not doing that, why does their life look greater and healthier, why are they getting that work and not me….”
Its all unhelpful in the end. It leads to self-doubt and poor/negative self-image and a lack confidence (and worse …. fill in the blanks).
Below is a perspective on how you may like to manage your engagement and time on these platforms, to both safeguard yourself and grow your business (be that in clients or advocates).
Before we start… Trust Points
I believe there are 3 trust points that people consider when engaging with consultants (freelancers etc) new to them. These are:
- your content e.g. blogs, website pages
- your social media behaviour e.g. posts, contributions, acknowledgments
- recommendation i.e. what others say about you without you priming them
In service of this you need to:
- be consistent and congruent with your behaviour overtime
- offer credible and helpful guidance in service of others (without a desire for return)
- and act with confident humility, a belief in your ability, but humble about your achievements (acknowledging these were gained only with the investment of others)
Generating client opportunities from social media to a greater degree will depend on how much people trust you, a relative stranger. I mean would you give your car keys to someone you didn’t know. NO, so why would you give a stranger your money and risk project failure with an unknown entity.
People are more likely to risk what they have with someone they know even if they are not quite right for the work, than to trust a newcomer to their world even if you are the best person for the job. So we need to help them choose you, by building the opportunity for trust!
Firstly – select your platform(s)
You don’t need to be everywhere and if you are, be sure to have good reason for being there and different networks in these spaces. If you are everywhere posting all the time, then people may wonder when you actually do the work.
Understand why are you there, what is it that you hope to gain from the space you hold and what do you believe you can offer to it. Its pointless being pointless. You risk wasting your own valuable time and becoming someone else’s noise.
Secondly – have something for people to engage with
This speaks to ‘trust point’ number one – your content (blogs, website info etc). Share variations of your content on the different platforms you use. There’s nothing worse than people simply publishing the same content across all social media, it gets annoying for the reader and is a bit lazy (also don’t just get your mates to like this stuff especially if they haven’t read it).
Insightful as it may be don’t just re-post info written by others, I say write (blog) about the work you do. Share lessons of the real ‘worked/lived experience’. If you have delivered an event, share the lessons from it (what you did and what people learnt). Although be humble with it. No one likes a show off, share the realities of the training/project, the relationship with the client (name them if you can).
When people begin their journey toward being a client of yours they look for points of trust (are you credible and helpful). These authentic ‘worked/lived experiences’ are one such point.
Thirdly – connect with your tribe(s)
Don’t just follow or request a follow or connect. Ask yourself what is the mutual value of this relationship:
- Are they valuable to me (now and in the future) if so why?, and
- Am I valuable to them (will I be) if so why?
If you believe there is a true value then go ahead and connect. But don’t make it a cold connect, make it one that shows some level of ‘value’ in the relationship. This is not a sell, so don’t go telling them how amazing you are and what you can do for them.
Pay attention to their social media stream, what is it that they engage with, how do they engage (e.g. post or contribute), what are their current challenges or successes and how might being connected be of value. Perhaps look for ways to be part of the conversations they engage with, then when the times right (subjective measure obviously) say hello, show a true level of interest and connection to their world, then wait.
They may connect, they may not. This speaks to ‘trust point’ number two – your social media behaviour (e.g. posts, contributions, acknowledgments). It’s likely that before pressing accept or choosing to follow you people will check you out, they will make a judgement on your behaviour and its congruence. Its likely they will ask is this person consistent in what they do and trust worthy!
Fourthly – cultivate your audience(s)
This is all about ‘meaningful engagements’, those that are likely to lead to conversation. It requires you to actively contribute to the betterment of those in your network (for no direct return). Don’t just like or celebrate with some emoji icon – offer a perspective, evolve peoples thinking, be ‘helpfully provocative’ (there must be a positive point to this, otherwise it’s just rude) add something new to the space (where you can create curiosity in you).
This approach is in service of ‘trust point’ number three – recommendation i.e. what others say about you without you priming them. Get this right and your engagements become conversations, conversations that help lead to advocacy, advocacy that helps lead to recommendations and this should lead us to a paying client opportunity.
My minimalist approach to lead generation
My aim is to spend around 30min a day, often in the morning (sometimes first thing) looking out for conversations to join. Looking for spaces where I can legitimately contribute/add value. It may be to connect people with others I think may help their context, it may be to offer thoughts or direct people to a resource (usually someone else’s as I don’t believe self-promotions works well – saying “I can solve your problem doesn’t fit with being humble either).
- For each of these 30min I spend online I’d like to be able to cultivate at least one engagement (some form of acknowledgment between me and them). Done daily this means 5 new conversation opportunities per week.
- My desire is that each week one of these 5 new engagements can be rolled over into a future conversation over time. If I take this approach every week that’s 4 new deeper contacts per month.
- The hope then is that one of these 4 contacts will become a future client (or advocate). I believe this shift from ‘unknown stranger’ to ‘trusted network member’ and then contracted work generally takes around 6 months (an incubation period).
Therefore, if we trust the process – whatever we start today will bear-fruit in 6 months, and if we keep this up every month we will have a new client courteous of this approach. Now who wouldn’t want a new client every month for the cost of 30min a day.
If you have cultivated the right tribe and the value added conversation during these 6 months, it is likely that these contacts will ask for guidance or support directly (or offer your name to others who may be in need of your service). It’s at this point you can offer your own thinking. Not necessarily a solution but an approach or idea.
Yes, this is the long game. But if you get it right, one contact per month shifting from nowhere land to asking for help is not to many steps away from being a consistent income opportunity.
It’s the culmination of these 3 trust points that will lead you to the right work with the right people. This approach is deliberate, proactive and in service of those you want to help. As opposed to a net thrown wide hoping to catch many and not worry if some get away. Its about having something for the right people to feed on and grow from. Its this contribution to their world and their surrounding community that will lead to work.
Don’t go collecting people… lots of followers who are passive are less valuable than the few that buy! Better to know 100 people well and 1,000 that you may engage with, than 20,000 you don’t have a clue about (or they don’t have a clue about you). It’s not who’s on your list thats important its who’s got you on their list that actually matters. And you may only need to have a small proportion of your followership thinking this to drive business growth and income. Less good connections is actually more valuable…
Trust in the process…
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