In a recent Socially Stephanie column, I helped a real estate agent get over his case of social media stage fright:
As this is a topic that seems to always be at the forefront of many discussions I have with clients and friends, I'd like to address it here as well. The first thing you need to know is that there is no real wrong way to reach out on Social Media. Yes, some ways are better than others. Sexting in a business setting is probably not going to get you very far. Well, unless you are in the sex industry, of course. But for most of us, that doesn't apply.
When it comes to reaching out, authenticity and being yourself is key. Remember, social media is about building relationships. And as any relationship expert will tell you, relationships are built on trust and connectivity. You aren't going to connect with everyone in the world. This same rule applies to social media.
As a business professional, there are a few key networks to focus on for starting a conversation. It's likely that you'll be reaching out cold. While cold calling might be a thing of the past or not for your business, cold Tweeting/emailing is now a thing on the social web. I'd say that LinkedIn and Twitter will compromise most of your outreach. Facebook, however, is limited for a few reasons. One being that it's a more private network. The other reason is that it now costs you $1 to reach out if you aren't already a "friend" of theirs. You could send an email to the person and bypass the $1 fee, but it will go into their back email and they won't receive a notification, which means they probably won't ever see your email. So the $1 fee may be worth it, depending on the type of person you're trying to reach and whether you know they spend a lot of time on Facebook.
Now it comes down to that opener. Here are 4 openers to start a conversation through Social Media.
5 Social Media Outreach Openers
1. The Praise
Don't tell me that you won't read a compliment, because I'd say you were lying. Who doesn't like to be praised? Open with a compliment and you're sure to be heard.
@SoandSo I loved your article about … (Then provide your own insights or question here)
2. The Common Ground
The great thing about the internet is that it's filled with all walks of life. Because it is so huge, we've seen a trend moving towards the niche. Bridge the gap with something you both know about.
@SoandSo I was also at the #HowLive event in San Francisco. Did you get a chance to see … speak?
3. The Offer For Help
This opener requires a little listening and following someone in order to understand their needs better. But if someone is asking a question, they probably want an answer. Your time to move in.
@SoandSo I saw you're looking for a new hair dresser. I'd love to give you a free consultation at my studio.
4. The Question
I love a good question opener. If you know someone who is an expert in a certain area, it's pretty likely that they like to talk about it. Ask them a question you know they can answer. It will flatter them.
@SoandSo What do you think about using a wide angle lens for up-close shots?
5. The Non-Competing Partnership
If there is someone who you think has a business that can benefit from yours and vice versa, there's a perfect fit to get in touch.
@SoandSo I'd love to talk to you about how we can work together. I own a landscaping firm and your flower shop has gorgeous flowers I'd like to use.
These should get you started. But remember, it is always good to include a question because it opens up for more conversation. Keep in mind that open ended are better than yes and no.
Which network do you find reaching out easiest?
Do you have any tips on best practices for reaching out?