I make no secret of the fact that a lot of my paid work originates on Twitter. It’s a great platform – versatile, easy to dip in and out of, and great for a chatterbox like me: I type fast and I love chatting, so I’m in my element.
Much as I love the social aspect, though, I’m not on there for the sheer joy of it. Here’s my thinking:
Twitter is full of people.
People run businesses.
Businesses need copywriters.
So now my nefarious scheme has been revealed, let’s talk about how it works. Because if there’s one thing I’m not doing, it’s going on there and selling to people.
People hate being sold to.
They hate it if you appear out of nowhere and sell to them. They hate it even more if you tweet a couple of meaningless 140-character platitudes at them in a half-arsed effort to hide the fact that you’re selling to them.
So how do you go from chatting on Twitter to being hired? With a simple, 5-step formula and a big dollop of authenticity.
Twitter: your online coffee shop
Think of Twitter as an online café.
It’s noisy, people are rushing in and out, but once you’ve been there a few times, you start to notice the same faces. No one’s staying for long, but you might have a five-minute chat here and there. It’s non-committal. It’s nice.
And the thing with Twitter is that you get to tailor your coffee shop. You choose who comes in through that door by virtue of who you follow. Already your chances of meaningful interactions are higher.
So, you chat.
Not much at first – a little quip about something they’ve posted, the virtual equivalent of “Lovely weather!”. And maybe next time you see something interesting coming from their direction, you make another little comment. They respond. They comment on stuff you post.
Everybody’s having a Nice Time. Nobody’s selling.
You start to chat regularly with some of the folks who are on there. You see their value (read: content), they see yours. You crack a couple of jokes. It’s all lovely.
Nobody is selling.
what’s your name, stranger?
So you’re settled in. You chat, people chat with you, you post interesting stuff and you like the interesting stuff other people post.
No one’s trying to sell shit.
Once you’ve got a few buddies on there – accounts you tweet with more regularly – there’s a point at which it’s OK to find out a bit more about the person behind the brand.
What you want to do is get a name.
This isn’t about identifying your next victim – it’s just nice to know who you’re talking to.
Getting someone’s name is the first thing we do at an in-person business event – so where’s the harm in asking? It might not be the norm on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean it’s unacceptable – I’ve never met anyone who minded.
Take it to LinkedIn
Once you’ve got a name, go and connect with your compadre on LinkedIn, using a personalised invitation.
And in case I’m not hammering this home enough, don’t even think about selling. You’re putting a relationship cake in the oven. You get to choose how long you bake it, but whacking the heat up and expecting it to come out all tasty after 10 minutes is just foolish.
What you want to do is maintain the authenticity of this budding professional relationship. Lose the mindset that you’re biding your time, tolerating someone’s pleasantries until you get a chance to pitch.
Check out your contact’s profile, their company profile and – if you haven’t already – their website.
If you’re doing this right (i.e. making authentic connections), you should genuinely be interested in what they’ve got going on. Who knows what you’ll find?
Time to email
So you’ve had a nosy at their profile. Time passes, the relationship cake is baking nicely in the oven, you’re getting on with life and so are they.
You’ve seen something on their Twitter, LinkedIn or website that sparks your interest – something that could genuinely benefit both of you. Now’s the time to send them a short message.
I’m talking tiny. And still not salesy.
A couple of lines is all you need – tell them what you’ve seen, show a genuine interest and suggest there could be some scope for collaboration. Leave it there. Send it.
Don’t try and sell anything!
Skype Or Phone OR Coffee, OH MY!
They’re interested – great!
You’ve had a positive response to your message, and there’s something to talk about. Time to arrange a call or a coffee – great option if you’re local.
Now you’ve got a chat arranged, don’t get over-excited. The last thing you want to do here is panic and start practising your pitch, ready to blurt into their ear as soon as you’re in conversation.
Can you imagine how much you’d hate that?
Take it easy. You’re in a great position to establish a working relationship with this company now. Your contact knows the following about you – all from social media interactions:
- You’re personable, professional and insightful
- You engage regularly and relevantly online
- You share worthwhile content
- You’re interested in their company
- You’re a human being not a sales-bot
They’ve got to know your professional persona over a period of time without ever feeling pressed into an awkward situation where you’re trying to sell to them.
They’re open to interacting with you.
If you can see a genuine opportunity for collaboration between yourself and that person’s company, all you need to do is say so. Trade information. Talk about what they do, and why you love it. Talk a little about what you do, and how it would benefit them for you to work together. Talk about TV, the weather, music, whatever – just don’t talk sales.
Talk with them, not at them, and you’re in with a good chance.
Remember: authenticity is key
You’ve heard it a thousand times and you’re about to hear it again: business break-throughs are all about who you know. And the fact is, you don’t get to know someone by tweeting two promotional messages at them then asking them to hire you.
Marketing yourself is all about relationships – genuine ones.
I’m not asking you to go out there and make a hundred new best friends, but what I am saying is that if you don’t believe in the authenticity of the relationship you’re building, the other person won’t either.
And why would either of you want to continue that arrangement?
There’s no real short-cut to establishing meaningful relationships with a wider variety of people in your online circle, but social media allows you to speed up the process.
Share meaningful content, insightful comments, genuine interactions and pleasant quips, and you’re making sure you’re seen in a positive light. As my old boss used to say, “You’ve got to have credit in the bank before you make a withdrawal.”
So get some credit in.
If there’s no opportunity for collaboration straight away, that credit doesn’t disappear. Keep talking. Keep on with your authentic approach. Nurture your relationships, and you’ll be the person they think of when an opportunity does arise.
And remember: no selling!
Authentic relationship building is the heart of my business – but what about you? How do you make connections online? Comment below or chat with me @LorrieHartshorn!