Social network marketing: Be who you are

NOTE — This is the seventh in a series on social network marketing. The whole series can be found here.

We know that if you want to be good at social network marketing, you can’t hype your business and try to sell people. But at the same time, you have to have a way for people to know about your product or service. After all it is social network “marketing.”

So, how do you find buyers for your product without selling it?

First, you have to find a non-intrusive, yet easily seen, way for people to find your product or service.

Second, you have to answer truthfully, but without hype, when people ask what you do for a living. And you have to be ready to clearly show them how you make money and how they can, too.

All this is part of what some have taken to calling your “sales funnel.” I don’t care too much for the characterization, but the concept is sound. So instead, I prefer to call it your “interaction funnel.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael | Ruiz

Your blog, of course, is your funnel. What you want is a number of people actively commenting, participating and interacting on your blog. Some of those folks will ultimately find their way to join your opportunity, buy your product or use your service.

This will happen in one of the two ways mentioned above. They will either see the link to your opportunity or they will simply ask you about it.

The link to your product or service should be in the sidebar in your blog. Seldom, if ever, should you mention it in your blog posts.

When people are interested in your blog, they’ll take time to look around. They’ll notice the items in your sidebar and, if they think the items in the links will help them, they’ll click on them.

I prefer simple links to buttons or graphics that look like ads, but try a variety of methods to see what works best for you.

During the course of your conversations, there will occasionally be opportunities for you to discuss your opportunities. For example, someone might simply ask what you do for a living. When they do, you can give them a quick overview and simply refer them to one of the links in the sidebar or just give them the link yourself.

Some folks will also mention challenges they have. If you have a product or service that might help, you can point them to it. Make sure that you don’t include any hype or pressure. Also, be sure that what you’re offering will help them.

As people make their way down your “interaction funnel,” just be sure they don’t lose their way. A gentle nudge is OK, but don’t push it. Let people move at their own pace.

Eventually, the ones who get to the point of joining your business will know you and you’ll know them. That relationship will form a partnership that will make your businesses stronger and your lives better.

Social network marketing: Get to know those who need to know you

NOTE — This is the sixth in a series on social network marketing. The entire series can be found here.

Since relationships play such an important role in social network marketing, anyone planning to use it successfully must learn how best to interact with people.

Me, Myself and Eye
Creative Commons License photo credit: A Silly Person
The proper interaction will go a long way to helping people get to know, like and trust you. As with any relationship, the initial contact takes on added importance.

Whenever you meet someone on a social network, make sure your first impression is a good one. One way to do that is to know the person to whom you are talking. You can do that by looking at their profile, their blog postings and comments they make.

For example, a few weeks ago, I was responding to folks who are following my Twitter stream. I usually go to their Twitter site, find something interesting and write them a direct message about it. I don’t spend a lot of time on this, because I’d rather interact with people on my blog. But I know that taking this step sets me apart from all those who use automated programs to send a message to people who follow them.

While on one fellow’s site, I noticed a Tweet saying that he was going to a funeral. I sent him a message telling him I was sorry for his loss. I left off the link to my web site that I usually include on similar messages.

A couple of days later he sent me a message thanking me and saying that I was one of only a few who had expressed condolences. Others were just hyping their web sites, he said. Last week, he recommended me to his followers as someone to follow.

To me it was a no-brainer. If I met someone who told me he’d just lost his grandmother, I’d never say something like, “Let me tell you about my business opportunity.” That, in effect, is what happened to this fellow.

You also have to be careful that your efforts to build relationships don’t get so automated that it doesn’t do any good.

For example the other day I got a comment on my blog that said simply “its cool.” Now, I’ve gotten similar comments that were clearly spam, and this one might be. But I clicked on the person’s link. It’s a blog written in Spanish, but it looked legit. So, I approved the comment and replied, thanking the person for the encouragement.

The point is, I nearly rejected it without a second thought. Then I decided that for whatever reason, the person had taken the time to leave a comment, no matter how short, on my blog. That deserved enough of my time to check the link.

Keep in mind that you can’t form relationships with too many people. Most every day I get e-mails touting the wisdom of “building a list” in order to grow my network marketing business. Seems there’s numerous folks who think that having such a list is the ticket to success.

On the surface, there appears to be  wisdom to the strategy. After all, the more people on a list, the lower percentage of people you need to convince to join your team.

In other words if you want 10 new people on your team and have 1,000 on your list, that’s only 1 percent. If you have 100 on your list, you need 10 percent. Easier to get a 1 percent response than a 10 percent response, right?

Not necessarily.

List-building works great if all you need is a one-time customer. If a sale is what you want, the list-building strategy is a grand idea.

But network marketers need more than one-time customers. They’re seeking business partners.

The list-building strategy is a variation of the old “get a lot of no’s so you can get one yes” tactic. The main problem: it doesn’t work.

Network marketing is a relationship business. People join people they know, like and trust. If you have thousands of people on a list, there’s no way you can ever let them get to know you, but less like or trust you.

The relationship aspect of the business is the reason some trainers teach network marketers to make a list of their friends and family members. The thinking was that people who already know, like and trust you will be more likely to go into business with you.

Unfortunately, the profession was not up to the challenge. Presentations made the business sound much too easy. Broken promises of quick money led to hurt feelings.

Veteran network marketers soon came up with an acronym for their predicament — NFL, which stands for No Friends Left.

So, you can’t form close enough relationships with a lot of people in order for them to become business partners. And turning existing friends into business partners doesn’t work either.

What you need is a way to find potential business partners who will become your friends. You do that by genuinely interactioning with them. For that a list of dozens works better than a list of thousands.

Social network marketing: Show you care at every opportunity

posted in: Social network marketing | 0

NOTE — This is the fifth in a series on social network marketing. Earlier posts gave an overview and focused on how to relate to people, figuring out why you’re in business, and how to help people.

If I could give people using social network marketing just two words of advice, they’d be, “Don’t sell.”

The reason for this is simple: 90 percent of people don’t like it when someone tries to sell them something. Everyone has a “salesman” detector of sorts. When they sense that they’re being sold, they put up a nearly impenetrable wall.

In social network marketing, the reaction is even more pronounced. Sales tactics will get you blocked on Twitter, banned on Facebook and ignored on blogs.

So, if you can’t sell, what do you do? You care for people. Show your concern. Participate in conversations. Be honest. Let people know you and your business.

One way to understand this is to think of what one of my mentors calls the four boxes of marketing.

The first box is where they don’t know your or your product. This is known as the “box of death.” It’s all but impossible to make a sale from this position.

In the second box, they know your product, but don’t know you.

The third box is where they know you, but don’t know your product.

In the fourth box, your prospects know you and they know your product or service.
Think of it like a baseball game. When a prospect doesn’t know you or your product, it’s like you’re standing in the batter’s box. The only way to score is to hit a home run.
Babe Ruth
Creative Commons License photo credit: majorvols
Babe Ruth, one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, had 11.76 at bats per home run. In other words he hit a home run about every 12 times he came to bat.

Many networkers in social network marketing try to hit a home run the minute they meet someone. Many swing for the fences without even taking the time to know anything about the other person.

When the person knows your product or service but doesn’t know you, think of yourself on first base. Someone on first base is still a long way from home, but they could still score on a home run, a triple or perhaps even a double. This is better than being in the batter’s box, but still not a great situation.

In network marketing, this is rare, because most MLM products are not well-known in the marketplace. It’s even worse if you think of the business opportunity as the service offered by network marketing.

The network marketing profession has developed a poor reputation due to many aggressive, pushy distributors who hassle their friends and family. It’s like trying to get a hit when you’re sitting in the dugout.

If the person knows you but not your product, that’s similar to being on second base. Many runners on second will score with a solid base hit. A double or better is sure to score them.

In social network marketing, it takes time for people to get to know you. You have to show a genuine interest in them and their lives. If you’re blog is done well, they’ll learn more about you with every visit.

When the prospect knows you and your product, it’s like being on third base. You’re almost home. There’s multiple ways to score from third. You’re sure to score on a single or better. You could score on a walk if the bases are loaded. Scoring on a passed ball or wild pitch is possible. A fly ball deep to the outfield will score you if there’s less than two outs. You might even score on a well-placed bunt.

When people know you and your product or service, they’re much more likely to join your business.

The best situation is to find people who understand network marketing and are committed to it. This is like starting out with a stand-up double. When they get to know you, they’ll join you if they’re looking for an opportunity.

If you care for people and allow they to get to know, like and trust you, MLM will stand for Major League Marketer.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Help, not just anybody, everybody

NOTE — This is the fourth in a series on social network marketing. Previous posts gave an overview and focused on relationships and on understanding why you’re in business.

If you want to be successful in social network marketing, you have to find a way to form strong bonds with your business partners. One of the best ways to make those connections is to help them reach their dreams.
Creative Commons License photo credit: ♫Antoine
Remember, people tend to go into business with people they know, like and trust. The best way to do that is to get to know, like and trust other people.

This means you’ll get burned every once in a while, but the payoff is well worth the risk.

Think of your best friends. They are your friends because you know you can count on them if you need their help, and they know they can count on you. In short, they care about you, and you care about them.

Think back to the best teachers you had. Chances are they are the ones who took the time to help you understand the concepts they were trying to teach you. In short, they cared enough to make sure you got it.

If you want to be successful, you have to care about other people. It can’t be just a casual, “Can I help?” It has to be “from the heart” concern.

Express that concern during conversation on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. But make sure that the discussion is always a two-way street.

For example, the other day, I sent out a tweet on Twitter that I had picked up a virus while at my daughter’s softball tournament over the weekend. I mentioned that I had a stomachache and a fever.

A short while later, I got a reply from someone that I didn’t initially understand. It included a link to software that promised to “scan, repair and speed up” my computer.

After a few seconds, I realized that the person had seen virus in my tweet and thought my computer had a virus.

Perhaps the offer was genuine, but I suspect the person did a search for “virus” on Twitter and sent their offer to all those people. It might sell a few copies of software, but it won’t make too many friends.

And that’s what you have to become — a friend.

Here’s a few ways to get started helping people and finding friends.

Ask. Sometimes it might be as simple as saying something like, “Let me know if can help you in any way.” More likely, however, you’ll have to move beyond that. Ask them about their two biggest struggles in business. When they respond, see if you know something that will help them. If so, point them to it.

• Be sure the person’s problem is solved even if the solution isn’t connected to your business. As a matter of fact, it’s better if it’s not. When you help people without any gain, they see you as someone they can trust.

• Help without an agenda. You must be ready to help people whether or not your business will profit from it. After all, that’s what a friend would do.

Listen. When you ask the right questions, you’ll usually get answers from which you can figure out if the person needs your help. Every once in a while, however, you’ll have to read between the lines a little. If needed, ask follow-up questions.

Pay attention. Look for the people who are looking for you. If you’re perceptive, you’ll notice people who need help. When you sincerely ask who needs help, they’ll raise their hand.

MLM organizations are built on trust. The best way to earn your potential partner’s trust is to always do what’s best for other people. If you want to find success in social network marketing, become known for helping people.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Why we don’t know why we do what we do

NOTE — This is the third in a continuing series on social network marketing. Earlier posts focused on why most people fail and others succeed and on the importance of forming relationships.

Many people who are successful in social network marketing, or in other endeavors for that matter, are in touch with why they are in business. This is, one might say, their highest principle. Most of those at the very top of their craft have also learned how to help others to discover why their in business.

The first issue is not as easy as it may seem. It takes soul-searching, heart-wrenching, tear-causing effort.

Zen Morning
Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

The second issue is equally hard, because no one likes soul-searching, heart-wrenching, tear-causing effort.

Truth is, the angst and the anguish are worth it. Times 10. Or more.

Moreover, understand that deep down people want, even need, to know the reason they exist. That’s why Rick Warren sold millions of copies of “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Getting to the core of your existence is vital to living life to its fullest. When you understand yourself on that level, it’s a freeing experience. The feeling defies description.

One of my mentors recently forwarded me an e-mail that he had received from someone who had discovered the answer to his “why?” The note really got to me. It revealed the person in a significant way. It was if he had given the reader a glimpse inside the depths of his soul.

The person talked about how he felt as a child that he was destined for greatness but somehow fell into the trap of merely existing, of not living with joy and wonder. Now, as an adult, he sees “mundane life” taking hold of his children.

The writer says he knows that before he can expect his kids to change, he must change. When he seizes his life, he will become the positive model for them.

“True success is knowing that you’re living. Knowing that you short time here on earth was not just waiting to die,” he says. “Life is meant to be experienced, soaked up, shared.”

This is someone who has looked into his soul and, instead of a reflective abyss, found hope. That is the linchpin on which the journey to such discovery relies.

Someone who has found his or her reason for living will overcome any obstacle. Nothing can stop a person with a purpose.

Here’s some questions that will help you get started in finding out why your in business.

• What do you love to do? Think about those things that stir your passion, that get your motor running.

• When you have free time, what do you? And if you say, “Watch television,” I’d suggest turning the thing off for a week and doing something that feeds your soul, then answer the question again.

• If you had all the money you ever needed, what would you do? Yeah, I know we’d all live on a beach in the Bahamas or the like, but that would get old after a month or two. What would you do then?

• What are you searching for in life? Outside of money, what is your driving desire?

• What did you once dream about? Think back to your childhood and remember those long lost desires that once kept you up at night. It’s not too late to rekindle those embers.

• What do you want the person doing the eulogy at your funeral to say? I know it might sound morbid, but by thinking about it now, you can decide what that person will say then.

By looking back and facing forward, you can find out why you exist, why you want to be in business. You can discover your “why.”

After you’ve found what gives your life purpose, pass on what you know. Tell other people about the journey and how it gave your life meaning.

You’ll change your life by changing other lives.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: With friends like this, who needs prospects

Note — This is the second in a continuing series about social network marketing. A previous post showed why most people fail and how you can succeed in social network marketing.

To make it in social network marketing (and for that matter to make it in any method of MLM), you have to build relationships. The easiest way to do that is to have one place where you work on those relationships.

Your real goal is to find friends. One of my mentors likes to say that you should only go in business with people you’d like to join you on a 30-day cruise. To do that, you have to get to know them.

Rhapsody of the Seas
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rennett Stowe

Many networkers try to relate to people in too many places. It’s OK to meet people in a variety of ways, but the best place to form relationships online is your blog.

A blog is basically an online journal. It lets you talk to the world about most anything. What many never realize is that it lets anyone in the world talk back. Many powerful conversations take place in the comments section of blogs.

Here’s some suggestions to get your blog off to a good start.

Comment on other blogs and participate in online forums. Let people get to know you. Put a link to your blog in your signature file. If they find what you say in your comments interesting, they’ll find their way to your blog.

• Once they come to your blog, interact with everyone. Respond to every comment. And it might sound obvious, but allow comments.

If you want to impress someone, send him or her an e-mail thanking them for their comment. The other day, I got such an e-mail. I made a point to respond to the blogger. You can be sure I’ll go back to his site.

• Let people have their say. Even with they disagree with you. OK to moderate comments to keep spammers away, but don’t delete a comment just because they don’t think like you do.

• Be flexible. It’s OK for your view to be challenged. If your stance is correct, it will become stronger. If it’s not, you’ll see why you need to change.

• Be nice. Don’t come down on people who disagree with you.

• Let your guard down. Be transparent, likeable and trustworthy. People join people they know, like and trust.

• Most importantly, be you. You can blog about your business, but don’t make your blog just about your business. In fact don’t make your business the main focus of your blog. Talk about your life. Be real. Let people get to know you.

When you talk about business on your blog, focus on giving tips and suggestions to help other people succeed.

• Never come on like a salesman. Very few people react well to being sold. Keep your links to your business in your blog’s sidebar.

• Provide valuable content. Write stuff people want to hear.

Help people. This is one of the strongest ways to build relationships. You can only help people by discovering what their needs are. You can only discover that by communicating with them.

Once you get to know people, you’ll also learn their primary motivation. Many network marketers automatically think everyone’s main drive is to make more money. It’s not.

While many people are motivated by money, a lot of folks have other, stronger motivations. Once you discover that, you can help them scratch that itch.

In his book, “Success in 10 Steps,” (you can download a free electronic version of the book at, Michael Dlouhy talks about the importance of being able to determine what your distributors and customers want most passionately. He says successful networkers should study people and learn how to find people starving for what you have to offer.

Once people come to your blog and start commenting, it won’t be hard to determine how hungry they are.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Why most fail; how you can succeed

posted in: Social network marketing | 16

(NOTE — This is the first post in a series on social network marketing.)

Creative Commons License photo credit: jcestnik

Many network marketers (and marketers in general) have tried to use social networking to market their products. And they failed. Failed miserably.

As a result, many in MLM have written off social networking. Given up. Not worth the time, they say.

Good news. They’re wrong.

They’re wrong mostly because they tried to take traditional marketing methods and somehow graft them onto social networking. Even worse, some took traditional network marketing methods that don’t work and transplanted them into social networking.

Charles Heflin, the founder and CEO of SEO 20/20, has expertly pointed out how many businesses mistake social media networking initiatives for social media marketing campaigns. These businesses try to market their products and services in places better suited to social networking.

Heflin says he starts social media marketing campaigns from his blog. He syndicates the content, which greatly enhances its visibility, and then networks with prospects that come to the blog.

Instead of trying to network with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who may or may not be prospects, Heflin spends his time networking with people who have responded to his marketing campaign.

It’s like fishing in a small lake with only the fish you want rather than fishing in a huge lake filled with all kinds of fish.

Network marketers would do well to take note of Heflin’s strategy and his success.

Many in MLM cast too wide a net. They dive into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and other sites looking for prospects. These network marketers are under the mistaken impression that the more people they market to, the better off they are.

In this and other ways, the missteps in social network marketing mirror errors made in traditional MLM efforts. Many network marketers are still taught to think of  “anyone who breaths” as a prospect. They are taught the infamous “three-foot rule” — to present their business opportunity to anybody within three feet of them.

Many network marketers wrongly think the busyness of all their social networking efforts will pay off in their business. Then they wonder why hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of Twitter followers don’t translate to a growing downline.

The reason is simple. MLM is at its heart a relationship business. People tend to get into business with people they know, like and trust. Sending “join my business” invitations to thousands of people does not communicate your openness, likeability or trustworthiness.

Others in MLM take a different approach, marketing their products or services on social networks largely populated by family members and close friends.

Old friends who want to know how you’ve been and family members looking forward to the next reunion don’t want to hear a sales pitch or even a low-key business presentation.

Networkers who prey on friends and family members are a big reason MLM has such bad reputation. When they meet someone new, they automatically think of them as a prospect, not a friend.

Hitting up friends and family doesn’t work despite the general inclination to join people you know, like and trust. This is because friends and family members see the business pitches as an abuse of the trust you had with them.

So sending marketing messages to friends on social networks is a wrong strategy poorly implemented.

OK, we know what doesn’t work. So what does work?

Glad you asked. Here are 10 social network marketing strategies that work. They will be further explored in future posts.

1. Build relationships. You can’t do that everywhere. You can meet people in various places, but it’s important for them to be where you can get to know each other better. That place is your blog.

2. Find the reason you’re in business and share it with others. Share what makes you do what you do. Tell people what’s important to you. Then help other people discover what’s important to them. Make your blog about you, not about your business. Provide valuable content.

3. Help people. Earn their trust. Show them the path to success. People should learn their own way. Interact with them on your blog. When you see they have a need, offer to help.

4. Don’t sell. Care about people. There’s an old saying that’s true here — people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t make your blog or your other relationships about selling. Nine out of 10 people will be immediately turned off if you try to sell them.

5. Approach people where they are. Learn about different personalities. Look at their profiles. Learn about them. Pay attention to the way they interact with you. Then help them get what they want. Don’t try to manipulate them. Just help them.

6. Be up front about your business. Don’t hide what you’re doing. When they ask what you do, tell them. Consider what they’re thinking. Let them get to know you. Let them know, like and trust you. If they’re interested in joining you, help them believe they can do it.

7. Once they join, be sure you have a simple system for them to follow. Show them what you do and teach them how to do it.

8. Take advantage of the advantages you have. These days everyone is looking for ways to “monetize” their blog. They want to know how they can make money on the Internet. You know how. Show them. They’ll join you.

9. Don’t just show people how to make money. Show them how to live. Teach people how to think, not what to think. If you’re opportunity is right for them, they’ll join you. Build a community made up of people who are your business partners and others who just like your blog.

10. Stay focused on your business. Concentrate on your blog — the place where you can network with people. Don’t get sidetracked by money-making schemes that come along. Don’t fall for the myth of multiple streams of income. You’re in this for the long haul. It’s your business. That provides your income. Specialize in it.

Those who are truly great at what they do have a die-hard commitment to it. Find your thing. Commit to it. Blog about it. Make it your business.

Steve DeVane

Leadership techniques: Know your prospects

posted in: leadership, Uncategorized | 8

I’ve noticed how people react to different leadership techniques.

I thought about this today when the pastor made an interesting observation during his sermon. He pointed out the difference between cows and sheep.

Creative Commons License photo credit: qhienle

Cows, he said, have to be prodded. Cowboys herd them in a direction by yelling, shouting and carrying on in various ways to make the cows move in a certain direction.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Antikris
Sheep, on the other hand, prefer to be led. They know the shepherd’s voice and follow him where he wants them to go.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with cows. That’s just the way they are. Similarly, sheep act the way they act because they’re sheep.

It got me thinking about how prospects act when presented with a home-based business opportunity. Some are like cows. They have to be cajoled into joining. Others, like sheep, are open to new experience and are willing to follow someone they know, like and trust.

This reminded me of two important keys to success in MLM or in most any business endeavor.

First, recognize when someone is hesitant. Trying to herd them into your opportunity probably won’t work. Even if you convince them, they’re likely to regret it later and either quit or shy away from doing what’s needed for success.

Realize, also, that there’s nothing wrong with folks like this. They often just need to make a decision on their own time. They might need more information or just need to think it over.

Second, be willing to lead when someone is willing to follow. If you’re open, likeable and trustworthy, it’ll show in your actions, your attitude and your voice.

As time goes on, these folks will need your confidence until they realize the success they need. There’s nothing wrong with these folks either. They just need you to show the way.

Using these important leadership techniques will greatly increase your chance of success.

Steve DeVane