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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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I know the idea of cyberstalking your prospects still makes many people uncomfortable. You think you’ll catch them off guard if you mention something from their social media profile.

Here’s what you can do. Before you meet someone in person, while you’re checking out their profiles, give them a quick like or share on Facebook. Let them know that you’re listening to what they put out there. It could be a week before you meet them or a few hours before you meet them. Either way, when you bring it up in person, they will already know how you know that they just got back from a rock-climbing trip to South Africa.

Here’s another caveat — you want to build rapport but you don’t want to seem phony. When you’re looking around the walls of someone’s office or reading about their interests online, you need to find something that you can honestly appreciate.

So what if you’re looking around the office or on their public profile and you don’t find anything in common? They’re super into hunting, golf, or opera music. You’re into none of those.

You can still find common ground, but you might need to think of their interests in a broader sense. Hunting becomes traveling. Golfing becomes the outdoors. Opera becomes live music.

And then, don’t be afraid to be honest. Here’s a sample conversation starter when you’re talking to the person with golfing photos: “I’ve never been into golf, but I love the outdoors. What do you like most about golf?” The person might then respond, “I actually suck at golf, but I like that it gets me outside.” You don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject they’re interested in, and you definitely don’t want to fake it because it’s a very real possibility that they’ll call you out on it.

If they have mounted exotic dead animals around their office you could still find common ground, even if you’re completely opposed to sport hunting. “That’s some amazing taxidermy — you must love to travel. Tell me about the most fascinating place you’ve been.”

The goal isn’t to just break the ice. The goal is to genuinely find out something about that person that gives you a touchstone. It will help you close deals, but more importantly it will help you be a better service provider.

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About This Blog

Spencer Smith is the founder of spencerXsmith.com 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 IBMadison.com, The Huffington Post, The American Bar Association, and Law Journal Newsletters.

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