How To Be Valuable

If you’ve read this blog for a while or heard me speak, you know I spend a lot of time telling you that you need to provide value if you want to be successful at social media marketing.  It’s really the foundation of all social marketing.  If you want people to stay connected to you, and refer their friends, you have to give them a reason to do so.  And that reason is that they find you valuable.

This is the point where some people get stuck.  “What can I say that’s valuable?” they cry.  “I’m no expert!”

Trust me, you’re not alone in feeling this way.  But you’re also making this harder than it needs to be.  I’m not telling you you need to be the kind of expert that wears a lab coat and has a Ph.D.  Instead, it’s just about sharing advice that people need.

Here’s an example.  When I got started with social media, it was through an online message board hosted by our adoption agency.  Some of the users on that board gave lots of great parenting advice.  People came to rely on them, and even message them privately, asking what they thought.  These parenting “experts” would give links to articles they read on the subject, relate stories about what they did in similar circumstances, and share products they used that helped them through.  They became the experts within our community, simply because they were willing to share their experiences.

You can do something similar.  Let’s say that you sell nutritional products.  People who buy your products are most likely interested in living a healthy lifestyle.  Well what do you know about that?  What would you share in a face to face presentation?  You’d probably share the health benefits of exercise.  You might recommend a book or website that gives great advice or healthy eating recipes.  You’d probably be able to tell someone about the health benefits of particular vitamins or substances, and why someone should consider adding them to their diet.

Now notice, nowhere in that list did I tell you to pitch a product.  Rather, you’re sharing the kind of advice you’d share with a friend over a cup of coffee.

This is what it means to provide value.

You don’t have to know it all. Just share what you do know through little tips in your status updates.  But also search the web.  Educate yourself, and then share links to articles you find helpful.  Follow people on Twitter who are experts in fields related to your product or opportunity, and then share what they say and link to.  This will make you more valuable online, and will also help you in your face to face business.  After all, the more information you can share, the more credible you become in terms of sharing advice.

EVERYONE can be an expert at something.  Including you.  So stop worrying so much about the burden of the term “expert,” and instead think about how you can help someone.  That’s what being valuable is all about.

Your thoughts?  Would love to read them in the comments.

image credit: Mai Le

5 Responses to How To Be Valuable
  1. Tom Doiron
    September 30, 2010 | 10:10 pm

    Hi Jen,
    I have heard the value thing hammered my teachers and trainers of social media, but you are the first I have read that put wheels under the concept. Thank you.

    It made me think that most of us have at least one thing in our lives that is above all others in relavance and importance. We already have go to sources for info on that subject. We talk to people at a Bar-B-Q or party about the things that matter most to us. For example, now that I have discovered your wonderful blog, I will be quoting you and linking folks to your posts.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  2. Melody
    September 30, 2010 | 11:26 am

    I swear you read my mind Jennifer. I’m working on a training piece right now about providing value online and you are correct it isn’t hard. I have a list of helpful, short tips and ideas I can share on facebook etc. Every time I think of something, or learn something new I add it to the list so I always have something of value I can share with people.

    • Jennifer Fong
      September 30, 2010 | 11:27 am

      What a great idea Melody!

  3. Shelly Cheng
    September 30, 2010 | 10:56 am

    Willow House is going to be the first direct sales company to provide an e-boutique / e-commerce environment for consultants and customers. It’s going to revolutionize this industry by combining social media (blogs, weekly/daily updates with tips, etc.), our products AND other’s products (Green Products, Stainless Steel Products, etc.) from other companies. In so doing, I will take ownership of “my” business and can sell it later or will it to a loved one. 8 streams of income will in place starting next year….but, we are starting tomorrow with 3 streams being unveiled! It’s going to shake the Direct Sales industry and they will be talking about this in the future as the first company ever to provide such an environment. This article is a perfect example of what Willow House will be providing!

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