Social networks provide so many opportunities for the sales professional. You can nurture relationships with existing contacts, and find new people who may potentially be interested in what you have to offer. But there’s definitely a right way – and a wrong way – to use social networks, if you’re planning to use them to support your business activities. Here are 9 things you definitely want to avoid.
- Skipping the spell/grammar check. This makes you look unprofessional, and causes people to ignore you. If you know spelling is an issue for you, or you are unsure of the spelling or punctuation of something you’re writing, take the extra 2 seconds and paste that comment into Word first. The spell and grammar check will tell you what you need to edit. And if you’ve got serious challenges when it comes to grammar, I highly encourage you to take a business writing class. You NEED to be able to portray yourself professionally on social networks, and nothing says “amateur” faster than bad grammar. In fact, I’ve even started seeing companies write social media policies that REQUIRE that their consultants use spell and grammar check. This is a big deal. Take it seriously.
- Adding people to groups without permission. When you add people to the new Facebook Group, they may wake up to an onslaught of messages in their inboxes, informing them of every minute happening in your group. Make sure they want to be there before you add them. Otherwise, you could really turn them off.
- Sending friend requests to business contacts without adding a personal message. This is such a basic thing, and yet it amazes me that people still skip it. You should ALWAYS send a personal message with Friend Requests, especially if that person is a business contact, or doesn’t know you personally. Why would they accept your request if they can’t even remember who you are? If you’re taking the time to send the request, take the extra minute and write a message of introduction. It makes you look more professional.
- Using a profile picture that ISN’T your face. I say this all the time. People do business with PEOPLE. Not dogs. Not cartoon characters. Not your kids. You can use online photo albums to share photos of all the people and things you care about, but your profile photo should be YOU. It will make your job much easier when it comes to building relationships online if people have a face to connect with. It’s the equivalent of eye contact in the real world.
- Pitching your opportunity to the world as a status update. I still see this and it makes me shake my head every time. People need a personal invitation if they’re going to consider your opportunity. When you blast the details of your opportunity or opportunity special, this just annoys people. It doesn’t work. Focus your efforts on listening to the needs of your online contacts, and present the opportunity to the people for whom it applies. This will give you much better results.
- Providing your commentary on your political and religious views for all of your business contacts to see. If you MUST share these on Facebook, it’s highly advisable to target your updates so only your personal friends and family see them. These can be a real turn-off to people who are business contacts, and may cause them to hide your updates, or unfriend you altogether.
- A close second to this is “like-ing” Facebook Pages and Causes that present these same strong political or religious views. These Pages display both in your friends’ news feeds, on your profile wall when you join, and always on the Info tab of your profile. Take a step back and think about what a prospect from a different part of the country might think if they saw that Page listed on your profile, when considering whether or not to work with you. Is it THAT important to Like that Page? There are probably better ways to express support for causes in which you believe.
- Share all your apps with the world. Whether it be your daily horoscope, the latest quiz you’ve taken, or your favorite online game scores, don’t allow these to post constantly in your news feed. It makes you look unprofessional and clutters up the feeds of your business contacts. It will also prevent people from taking you seriously as a business person if they check out your Facebook Profile Wall, and all they find are games. You can go into your privacy settings and choose Apps and Websites. In the “Game and App activity” section you can set who sees these updates.
- Chain status updates. There is nothing worse than those updates that basically say to your friends, “If you don’t copy and paste this as your own status update then you’re an insensitive, unfeeling pile of doody.” If you’re in business, these just aren’t worth it. If you really believe in something, get off the computer and go do something about it. A status update that guilts your friends accomplishes nothing.
Social networks are about sharing fun conversation and celebrating. They are NOT about hammering your friends and business contacts with business ads and extreme views that drive them away. Make sure you look professional if you’re connecting with people online for your business. The tips above really do matter.