Social networks are networking events that go on 24/7. The “media” is the content (blog posts, articles, flyers, handouts, etc) you bring to the networking event. If the “media” you bring to the event sucks, you aren’t going to make many friends, and they aren’t going to share your “media” with their friends.

You can’t spam people into friendship with your “media.” If they do not trust the source of who is handing out the “media” at events, the “media” doesn’t matter. What matters is the trusted source… the person who is handing out the “media.”

We buy from those we trust. We can know and like people all day long but we aren’t going to give them money if we don’t trust them. Social networks help you build trust, which is what you need in order to sell products and services.

Whether you like it or not, people make decisions based on what they see about you online, regardless of what the real picture may be. Since most of us don’t have time to attend every event in town so we can “build relationships,” we need a system that helps us blend our offline business development activities with our online behaviors.

Here are 5 things that make up a good social media plan:

1. The Goal is Business Friends

You cannot be useful unless you first know what keeps your clients up at night. Spamming them online with features and benefits about your product or service does not solve their problems. You must find out what keeps them up at night so you can better understand them. This involves research.

  • Where do they spend time – on AND offline?
  • What social networks do they use?
  • What business events do they attend or sponsor?
  • What organizations or groups do they belong to?
  • Do they sit on any boards or advisory panels?
2. You Must Participate

How will you provide ongoing value to your best clients so they return to your online location and bring their friends? They will most certainly not care to visit if you are never there. You cannot post and run – that’s equivalent to dropping off flyers and leaving. You must give people something to share at least once a week (every day on Facebook).

3. Know Who Cares

Does anyone ever share your posts? If not, you may not have the right fans. If you don’t have the right fans, it doesn’t matter what they share because it’s not being seen by the right eyeballs.

People who share are your “free salespeople” and their reputations matter as much as yours. If you do not have the “right” free salespeople sharing your posts, you are spinning your wheels. What’s the point of someone sharing your posts if they are retired in Russia and few of their friends speak English? Unless you are selling “how to speak English” software, this share is irrelevant and does not help you. If you want a system that works for you, focus on the “who” behind the post – not on “what” to post, and you’ll find more of the right people to collaborate with.