How and Why to Promote Your Online Connections
There is a simple practice that can help you earn the respect and affection of your online network of peers, influencers, and prospects and build your influence the right way, but only if you are intentional and genuine with your actions. That practice is promoting others.
Most people will NOT go the extra mile or take the time to proactively focus on promoting others. The excuses range from having a preference for self-promotion, having a fear of promoting potential competitors, not taking the time to promote others, and not seeing the value in promoting others.
Engaging in a routine practice of genuinely promoting others is like magic. It's a win-win. When you promote others in the right way, great things can happen. You will be viewed as a respected influencer in your industry if you make promoting others a habit.
If you're not actively promoting your online connections, you are missing an opportunity to build relationships and position yourself as an influencer.
Here are 5 tips for becoming a better promoter online.
5 Tips for Effectively Promoting Others Online
#1) Be a Genuine Promoter
This should go without saying but I'm saying it anyway. It's pretty easy for someone to gauge whether or not you are genuine in your promoting them.
How do you prove that you really are genuine? The best way to do this is to cultivate actual relationships with your connections. Not only promote the social content and profiles of your peers, influencers, and prospects, but strive to get to know them better as people. Notice them, and observe what they are up to. Look and listen for opportunities to go deeper with your connections.
I can tell you hands down that the people in my network whom I've had 1-to-1 email exchanges or phone conversations with, or met face-to-face have by far been the best way to prove that I am genuine in promoting them. I've learned more details about who they are as people as well as what their goals and challenges are.
With an actual relationship in place, your promotions become more meaningful to the person you are promoting. It's just that simple. Once they have spoken with you, heard you speak, or met you in person, you no longer just have a connection. You have an acquaintance and maybe even a friend.
Do what you can to personally engage with those in your network that you want to build a better relationship with.
#2) Don't Wait Until You Need Something
I recently launched the Wired Advisor Podcast, which is a niche industry podcast that caters to the digital financial professional. As part of my launch strategy, I reached out to my industry peers and industry influencers via email to announce the new podcast, to ask them to subscribe, and to ask them to share with their respective networks (most of us focus on similar audiences).
Those who sent congratulatory notes back to me and also proactively promoted my podcast had each had ONE thing in common; I had been proactively promoting their content across my social channels on a consistent basis for at least some length of time. Those who did nothing were people I view as industry influencers but had not taken the time to consistently promote (in most cases).
There were a few on my list whom I do promote on a regular basis that did not reciprocate. That's just the way it goes. If you're genuine about why you are promoting someone from your network (because you believe they really have a valuable message to share), you shouldn't feel bad about this. Maybe that person is busy, traveling, or maybe they just aren't into the idea of promoting others.
In any case, the more consistently you promote someone online in a personalized fashion (not just auto-retweets), the more likely they will be to take notice. I have made some incredible inroads with influencers by consistently engaging in the practice of genuinely promoting them! You can do the same.
If you want others to promote you, start promoting them now and make a conscious effort to do so on a frequent basis. I recommend building a Twitter list of your peers, influencers, and prospects to get organized with this practice. If they aren't on Twitter, figure out where they are online so that you can begin promoting their efforts!
#3) Get Over Your Competitors
I happen to do most of my work in an industry that is extremely competitive (financial services industry). Professionals within my industry (and even some peers) are afraid that if they promote others who are within the industry, it will somehow hurt their opportunity to stand out, or it might suck away their audience, their traffic, and their business.
There is nothing further from the truth. This is a myth.
There was a time when I fell into this trap. In fact, I held back on promoting my peers for a good while online because I had a scarcity mentality. This is such a flawed way of thinking when it comes to building digital influence. It's something I encourage you to let go of it you're plagued by it.
Having an abundance mentality will get you so much further ahead in business and in life. Give your best insights and serve others, even those who could potentially be your competitors. Everyone achieves more through collaboration.
The truth is, someone is not a direct competitor to you unless they're offering the exact same value proposition AND targeting the exact same specific market that you are.
If you've done a good job personalizing your brand around who you are, and the market you target is super specific to the type of person you are best suited to help, chances are you really don't have any true "direct" competitors.
Start that first domino in your industry. Be the first to embrace and demonstrate an active online practice of promoting others. Be the change you wish to see in social networks!
There will always be some people who refuse to participate in collaboration, and that's ok. Ultimately it will be their loss.
#4) Do Your Homework
People won't care about you until they believe you care about them. That means paying attention and showing a genuine interest in people!
With all of the information you have about the people in your social networks, it pays to spend time learning about what is going on in someone's personal or professional life.
Promotion doesn't just include sharing someone's content with your network, although this is certainly a recommended strategy. In fact, anything you share publicly about a network connection should include a personalized comment from you whenever possible. This is how you show that you are interested. It's also how you spark a relationship.
Find opportunities to publicly (and personally) acknowledge, congratulate, showcase, and share the insights and stories of your online connections.
Publicly @mention your connections when you promote them on social networks so that they can see or be notified that you have done so! If there is no way to @mention them, send them a personalized message letting them know.
For example, I mentioned an industry influencer in one of my blog posts. In order to let her know, I first sent her a personalized LinkedIn message sharing the post. Once we became connected on LinkedIn, I shared the post with an @mention of her publicly.
If you really do your homework, you can also find opportunities to connect members of your network together through an introduction and/or recommend their work to someone who could benefit from engaging with them. These are also forms of promotion.
The more details you learn about the people in your network, the more unique opportunities you will find to promote them!
#5) Make Promoting Others a Consistent Activity
The best way to become a consistent promoter is to better organize your "master" social network that pulls from all networks.
Create a Twitter list of your MVC's (Most Valuable Connections) that you can follow and review daily. Sign-up for daily LinkedIn Updates which will come to your inbox and alert you to the people in your network who are having birthdays, job changes, work anniversaries, or mentioned in the news.
Consider utilizing "people intelligence" tools such as Newsle (now owned by LinkedIn) for keeping tabs on when your connections are mentioned in the news and Nimble (my favorite and most recommended Social CRM tool) for becoming more intelligent about the important people in your network
Promoting others is something that has to be deliberately practiced on a consistent basis. You can't just promote someone ONE time and expect it to matter. Make people promotion a part of your daily schedule if possible.
Consider keeping track of the following promotional activities in a spreadsheet:
-Who will I promote today?
-How many people did I promote today?
-How many personalized social shares, updates, @mentions, messages, or emails did I post or send today?
-How many people did I introduce, refer/recommend, or connect today?
Genuinely promoting others is such an effective practice because it helps you build meaningful relationships with your connections. Your digital influence will grow as a byproduct of this simple but powerful practice. While most people focus solely on promoting their own stuff, differentiate yourself by promoting others!
Do you spend any of your social networking time on deliberately promoting others?
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