Today, I was involved in a discussion on Twitter using the #sshour hashtag. It was probably one of the most successful chats I've seen on Twitter. It wasn't until the end of the conversation that I actually found that it was part of an online Google hangout. The topic was around social selling.

As per one of my most recent blog post, I talked about the need to build relationships through social media rather than using social media to reach the masses. As part of the conversation there were some comments made about using employees to enable a far greater reach. If you're wanting to play just a numbers game, this may well be the way to go. However, if yours is not a numbers game then the following should make sense.

In my career I have worked on large enterprise deals and in some cases smaller deals. These deals have all required a significant effort when it comes to building relationships. As part of annual account planning activities I have had to identify who the people are within the account that I need to reach and build a relationship with. These people could be within the account that I'm targeting or they could also be external influences of that account.

I then aim to target those people by building a relationship. By knowing who those people are helps me to prioritise the use of my time, not only in the real world but also through the use of social media. I am inclined to find out where they hang out. Once I have been able to do that I will look to add value to the community or I will look to join conversations. By adding value to a community that my prospect or customer belongs to, enables me to become noticed by my customer if someone they can trust.

Recently, I have been building a relationship with somebody in recruitment for one of New Zealand's largest banks. One of his social media profile pictures shows him holding a large kingfish that he has caught. As I am also a keen fishermen, this has allowed me to enter into a conversation with him about fishing. Obviously, this has no direct relationship to what I am selling, however it has allowed me to build a really good relationship with him. Almost every time he sees me post something about my fishing experiences, he adds a comment.

This weekend, he went fishing on a charter boat and caught a snapper. He then sent me a photo of the snapper via Twitter. He is now sharing information with me that is completely unsolicited, but very welcome. It is great to think that he feels that he can brag to me about his day fishing.

Now that I have a relationship, with this particular person, it is easy for me to talk to him about what I am doing and how I can help his business. We have a common respect for each other which can only come about through good relationships.

Depending on the type of business you have, this approach may not be the best approach. If you have something that is highly transactional then maybe it would be a good idea to play the numbers game, rather than the quality relationship game. 

One thing to keep in mind, is that over the last four months while I have been building this relationship, I've not tried to sell him anything. Because we now have a relationship, when he has a need I am sure that I will be his first port of call if he thinks I'm able to solve the need.