How to Win Friends & Influence People Online

It’s such a cliched and overused phrase I couldn’t resist paraphrasing it as the title for this blog post, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn I’m not the first.

I’m reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and before I get into this I will admit that I want to be Chris Brogan when I grow up; he is THE Social Media Blogger & Internet Marketing Expert and has so many projects in the works I am sure the man never sleeps. He’s all about sharing and giving and is generally the popular guy in the room – liked by the guys, trusted and liked by the girls. I started reading the book really to get inside his head and see how he got where he’s at, and to understand the written & unwritten rules of successful brand building through Social Media Marketing.

So I get to a section on being a “Good Citizen,” – sharing knowledge and information and not selling yourself. Being a “Good Citizen” is about promoting others far more than you promote your own products & services; operating in a spirit of collaboration, not trolling the internet for customers. A few pages into this chapter I realize: “They don’t know anything about selling that I don’t know already.” That doesn’t mean I’ve lost esteem for the authors, and that they don’t know a heck of a lot more about selling & marketing ONLINE than I do. It means that I realize that what they’ve done is translate the way a great Salesperson/Business Owner/Marketer operates in Real Life onto the web. Any great career salesperson worth their salt knows that in the real world you need to be your client’s trusted advisor and friend, and I mean genuinely, to develop meaningful relationships and long term sales.

And any good salesperson realizes that a client will immediately smell disengenuousness and false friendship… and NO ONE likes the hard sell – that only works in used car dealerships, occasionally. Constant Twitter/Facebook posts all about your products means eventually even your real-time friends will tune you out. Imagine you’re at a business card exchange and there’s one guy running around collecting & giving out as many cards as he can, stopping for a few minutes to sell you hard on his company. You may find him amusing, but you’ll probably never do business with him. Then there’s the lady who speaks to maybe 3 or 4 people in that hour and a half exchange, and you are one of them. She speaks so passionately and enthusiastically about her business and, more importantly, asks a lot of questions about YOURS and actually seems to listen. You’ll remember her, and you actually make a mental note to look her up on Facebook & Twitter when you get back; you might not ever need her services, but if someone who you know does, you’ll refer them to her in a second.

So the moral of the story is: don’t be someone different online than you would be in person… would you really run around a room of people shouting out the praises of your company and hard selling ? Probably not, and if you would there’s really no hope for you in sales, either real or online. In REAL life you’re probably a genuine, sincere person who believes in what you do. Hopefully you also are a networker & collaborator already, so BE THAT online too. It is amazing what doors open up, for sales, professional development, and even real friendship when you start putting other’s ideas first.