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Aug 3, 201710:45 AM#SocialBiz

with Spencer X. Smith

Dig through your customers’ garbage to learn about them. Or, try this instead

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Imagine someone walking down the street wearing a T-shirt for your favorite band. You could easily start up a conversation by saying, “That’s my favorite band! Have you seen them live?” Your shared love of that band would provide a subject to connect over, instantly establishing rapport.

What’s the modern-day equivalent of this phenomenon? Public-facing social media posts from your customers and prospects. Social media gives you the tools to instantly build rapport with people without seeing what they’re wearing that day.

Your ability to establish rapport with your connections will make or break your networking and sales efforts, and will save you from small talk hell.

Before social media, this was harder. When I used to make sales calls, I would walk into a prospect’s office and immediately start scanning their walls and their desk for something to connect on, something to establish rapport in a non-creepy way. Sometimes, I’d notice some photos from the golf course. Hey, I see you like golf. What’s your home course? Once we got started into an interest we shared, it would often lead to a more intimate conversation.

Seeing someone’s public profile on social media is like seeing the inside of their office. It’s not like looking inside their house or digging through their garbage. The interests, photos, and articles they post publicly are the things they’re okay with people seeing in public. You never want to weird out a client, and it’s not weird to refer to something that’s on their public profile.

Think about your own office — the stuff you hang on your walls is stuff you’re okay with other people seeing and talking to you about. In fact, you’re probably proud of it.

If you Google anyone, you’ll almost always find something about them that’s publicly available. They might have shared some photos on Facebook, or listed interests or community involvement on LinkedIn. They’ll usually have something that indicates who they are and what they care about.

At a recent speaking engagement, I met a law student who said he was an introvert and he had found a way to use social media to make networking events easier. If he saw someone across the room and thought he should go up and talk to them, he would step outside quickly to look them up on social media. Then he’d go up and say, “Hey, I saw this online about you.”

I love his approach. Arming yourself with the details gleaned from social media is a little bit like peering into the mind of the person you’re trying to connect with. It takes the pressure off of you to come up with something witty or clever to say, and it will rescue you from the dreaded small talk loop. You can introduce yourself and launch right into a specific question about them.


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About This Blog

Spencer Smith is the founder of and co-founder of AmpliPhi, a Madison, WI-based digital marketing agency. He’s an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and adjunct faculty at Rutgers University, where he teaches classes on Social Media Strategy.

He’s been called a "Digital Marketing Expert" by Forbes and was the winner of the 2016 In Business magazine Executive Choice Award for Social Media Consulting Company. Spencer speaks at an average of 60 conferences and events per year and only teaches what he has first proven to work himself with his own business.

He has been featured and quoted in Money magazine, Entrepreneur, Inc. magazine, Costco Connection, and dozens of other publications. He also writes columns for, The Huffington Post, The American Bar Association, and Law Journal Newsletters.



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