How Do I Introduce Online Friends to My Business?

So I recently had a question from someone on my Facebook Page (Did you know I answer your questions about social media there? Come join us!) that I thought you all might find interesting. Here’s what it said:

Some of my facebook friends are former high school friends, and I haven’t spoken with many of them in over 20 years. I would like to introduce them to my company, but what is the best way to do that through Facebook? I don’t want to just send them a message and blurt out what I’m doing now without reconnecting first. But just don’t really know how to approach them. Would love to know your thoughts on this subject.

This is a great question, and I’m so glad he asked it! We all know that Facebook allows you to reconnect with old friends. But how do you go about telling them about your business?

I have to tell you that in some ways it feels funny putting this list together as a formulaic approach, and I never want you to treat it as such. If your only purpose for building a relationship with ANYONE is simply to pitch the business, don’t bother! A relationship implies a commitment, and I want you to be sure you stay true to that. Enjoy the process of getting to know people.

Anyway, here are some suggestions for getting to the point where it’s appropriate to introduce your business:

  1. Once you’ve had an accepted friend request, either post on their wall or send them a private message through Facebook thanking them for the connection, and asking how they’ve been. Refer to an old story or memory that the two of you share.
  2. Watch for status updates from this individual. Make it a point to comment on his/her posts a couple of times per week.
  3. Listen to his/her posts to learn about what’s important to him/her, what’s going on in his/her life, etc. You really want to spend at least a couple of weeks on this before you attempt to mention your business.
  4. Mention your business peripherally during this time as part of your general status updates. You might talk about the fun you had at a party or team meeting, how excited you are to be going on the company incentive trip, how you’re looking forward to seeing the new catalog, etc. If you’re building the relationship properly, this person will notice your posts.
  5. If the person is local to you, send a private message inviting them to get together for coffee to catch up. Focus on continuing to build the relationship, but mention your business during that time.
  6. If you have a Facebook Page, make a general announcement that you have a Page through your profile, inviting people who may be interested in learning more to Like the Page.
  7. When you begin to notice that the person has started to comment on your posts as well, the relationship has begun. Continue the back and forth for a few weeks.
  8. When you see an opening, such as this individual contemplating a purchase of the type of product you offer, or a lament about wanting more money or hating their job, reach out with a private message asking if they have time for a phone call. Tell them you saw their post, had a similar situation, and found a great solution. It’s important not to include a pitch directly in your note. Rather, just ask for an in-person contact.

You’re so much better off building relationships and waiting for an opening, rather than immediately pitching your products or opportunity. I’ve said it before: people MUST come to know, like, and trust us before they’ll be willing to do business with us. Don’t be so eager to sell and recruit that you neglect the necessary groundwork.

What steps would you add to this list when building relationships online that lead to new business? How have you introduced the business to old friends you’ve reconnected with on Facebook? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

3 Responses to How Do I Introduce Online Friends to My Business?
  1. PB
    April 8, 2011 | 3:48 pm

    I’ve been waiting on this part since 1/28 (the day I signed into the Networking Marketing business). This article is GREAT.

  2. Adeline Terry
    April 8, 2011 | 11:15 am

    Jen,
    This is an awesome,awesome post and I agree 110%. Sometimes when I start “thinking about” introducing my business right off I stop and ask myself a couple of questions. “Am I really interested in re-building the relationship or am I just interested in myself & business?” This usually stops me right in my tracks. This business is all about relationships. If I don’t want to work on the relationship , then the business relationship wouldn’t be a successful one either. This keeps me honest.

    Have A Great Weekend!
    Adeline
    Adeline Terry recently posted..3 Reasons You Need To Have FUN in Your Direct Sales Business

  3. Paul Young
    April 8, 2011 | 8:59 am

    I’d like to add a step 0 to the your excellent list.

    0. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to introduce this particular friend to my business?

    Not everyone is a fit for every business or opportunity. Particularly if you have not had contact for years, I suggest taking it slowly. Figure out where this person is in her life and if her goals and more importantly, core values, are compatible with yours.

    I speak from painful experience! :-(

    Paul
    Paul Young recently posted..Clouds- Crayons- and SaaS

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