I like social media. I spend some time out here, and I have developed some nice relationships. Some of those relationships have turned into real personal relationships. Some of them have turned into business relationships.

The idea behind social media is connection, engagement, and sharing. It’s about winning friends, and sometimes it’s about influencing people. Some people struggle to understand this, mistakenly believing that they need to tear others down.

The Fastest Way to Alienate People (Don’t Do This!)

Over the last couple months, I have had a couple of people who share my passion for sales and all things selling decide to post nasty, critical comments, some of which attacked me personally. I am fine with that; in fact, I am more than fine with that, and I don’t have any feelings that can be easily hurt.

What bothers me about this is that they believe that this is a strategy for using social media to win business.

The people who adopt this strategy aren’t alienating me, they are alienating the very audience they are trying to develop. They are alienating other people with a social media presence, and they are alienating their potential clients. Instead of engaging in a conversation, where everyone is free to voice their opinion and disagree (without being disagreeable), they are disagreeable in hopes of demonstrating their expertise in sales and selling.

They are undoing themselves.

Instead of making friends, they are making sure that they are avoided. Instead of influencing people, they are creating an unnecessary barrier. Your potential clients don’t really want to work with someone with an unpleasant and nasty disposition.

You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar

My mom used to tell me that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I hated when she said that, and I wondered why I would want to catch flies in the first place. But, as is always the case, she was correct then and she is correct now.

Social media doesn’t work the way the people I am describing here believe it works. You don’t create positive attention, a positive buzz, and potential clients by running around trying to tear other people down—even those you perceive as your competitor. You catch more flies with honey.

As Far As I Can Tell (Do This!)

There are a lot of people who know a Hell of a lot more about Social Media than I ever will. But as far as I can tell, this is some of how it works.

You gain a following on social media by engaging with people. You participate in conversations. Disagreements are fine, as long as they are polite, professional, and you don’t come across as being disagreeable.

You gain a following on social media by pointing people to good content that other people have created. This is true even when the person (or business) creating the content is your competitor (or your perceived competitor). You pay forward the sharing of quality content, and others share yours.

You gain a following on social media, and that following translates to business when you demonstrate how you are a value creator. This is not the same thing as demonstrating how other people are not value creators.

A Skunk at the Garden Party

Showing up to the party, running into the middle of the group, and punching somebody in the face isn’t a great strategy for making new friends.


What are the rules of engagement on social media if you want to extend your brand and gain client?

What do the connections you make on the social web say about you? Why is social proof important?

What does your personal brand on social media stand for? Is that different than what your business brand stands for? Why is it attractive to your potential clients?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on July 22, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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