How To Start a Conversation with People Through Social Media

So you’ve identified a very promising prospect for your business on a social network like Facebook or Twitter. (You may have used one of these 6 Ways to Find New Prospects for Your Business.) It’s clear to you that they have a real need for your product or opportunity (even though you haven’t started a relationship yet…you can just tell), and you’re just dying to tell them all about how what you have to offer is JUST what they need.  So should you just dive in?  No!

Here’s how to start a conversation with a prospect on social media.

  1. Say hello. If you have not yet started a relationship with a person, the first thing you want to do is make a connection.  So say something like “Hi there.  I saw that you’re interested in X. (or know Y person) I love that too.  Would love to connect.”
  2. Respond to something they’ve said. If someone talks about an experience they’ve had, shares a picture, etc, make a comment about it.  Relate to them.  For example, if they complain about rush hour traffic, commiserate.  If they share a picture of a vacation or a new outfit, talk about how fabulous it looks.
  3. Ask questions.  If you notice a common interest in the person’s profile, ask something related to it.  For example, if you notice they have an interest in gardening and live in an area with a big gardening show, ask if they’ve ever attended.  Show an interest in them as a person.

Now notice that with all of these, you are not responding to the first opening they’ve given for your product or opportunity.  Why not?  Because the person doesn’t know, like, and trust you yet.  If you pounce in a sales-y way, they’re going to run in the other direction, and you’ll never have an opportunity to present in a way that will be well received.  So instead you focus on getting to know someone (which takes some time.)  Later on, after you’ve developed a relationship, another opening will come along.  At that point, you can send a private message with information about your product or opportunity.  Just be careful not to do it too soon.  Really develop trust first.

It’s helpful to think of this the same way you would with in-person networking.  You wouldn’t walk up to a perfect stranger and launch into your sales pitch.  It wouldn’t work, and people would be completely turned off.  So why do we think it’s appropriate to do so on social media?  These are still PEOPLE.  The same rules apply.

When we remember that it’s about building relationships first, we will have much greater success with our social media efforts.

What’s your experience?  Have you been pitched by perfect strangers?  Do you have techniques for starting conversations that work well?  Would love to read your comments below!

5 Responses to How To Start a Conversation with People Through Social Media
  1. Dora
    May 1, 2014 | 8:30 am

    I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time now and wish I could have this all in one book. Do you have such a book, or are you planning one, Jennifer?

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 1, 2014 | 2:24 pm

      I really should, Dora. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  2. Helen Onulak
    May 4, 2010 | 4:30 pm

    Great article!

    I was helping a friend with a TweetChat for a direct sales opportunity. As soon as another participant in the TweetChat asked about the cost of the kit, a consultant pounced on her and offered to be her sponsor. My friend was immediately turned off, even though this was directed at someone else.

    Just goes to show that even one bad apple can spoil the opportunity.

  3. Vicki Wilson
    May 4, 2010 | 11:21 am

    I agree, Jen. I think of it this way: if your product/service were a person, the goal of social media is to get others to want to hang out with her!

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