Social Selling Through Acts of Kindness

Read about four unselfish acts to help you build trust with connections, prospects, and influencers.

June 27, 2016

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By now, you probably know social selling isn’t how many calls you can make in an hour—it’s how much trust you can build. You’re aiming to cultivate relationships and establish yourself as a trusted resource—not just a salesperson—for a potential client.

If your strategy is to push great content, timely data, and insightful advice to key prospects in order to move the needle, you’re certainly ahead of the curve. But if that's your only approach to the new world of social selling, you’re missing a crucial element: unprovoked acts of kindness.

The idea here is the same as the one propagated by Ryan Tognazzini, a principal at Sales Benchmark Index, who calls the concept social debt. Peter Mollins of Knowledge Tree described Tognazzini's concept like this: "Creating social debt is simply the practice of helping others first – or giving before you receive. By adding value to your contacts and others in your community, you’ll build goodwill and earn potential reciprocation in the future."

The key is to unselfishly look out for a connection with no specific sales goal in sight. That connection could be a prospect, friend, coworker, someone you just met at a networking event, or (even better) an influencer. Down the line, if you've done enough giving, you'll reap the benefits.

If, for example, you’ve introduced a connection to a perfect prospect, you’ve probably earned quite a lot of social debt. When the time comes for you to ask for an introduction, he or she will be happy to help you out—and may even send more business your way.

Here are four more simple acts of kindness that will earn you plenty of social debt.

1. Suggest a Hire

There may be no better way to gain social debt than to suggest a well-qualified candidate to a connection whose company is hiring. Imagine that candidate gets hired; you've now earned social debt with two different people (and probably netted a nice bottle of your favorite liquor).

2. Recommend Them on LinkedIn

Now let's imagine that you’re the one looking for a new job or a big promotion. What better way to start your day than to wake up and see that your former colleague just wrote you a glowing recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. You’ll be far more likely to help them out in the future.

3. Give a Shout Out on Pulse

If you are putting together an insightful post on Pulse, think about backing it up with an anecdote from someone in your network. If, for example, your post is about how financial professionals can use social media close deals, interview a banking connection who you know has embraced such strategies. Your connection will probably be flattered and benefit from the free promotion.

4. Make an Introduction

Perhaps the greatest gift you can offer someone in business is introducing them to a new prospect. But introductions can be a valuable asset, even if you’re not laying the groundwork for a business deal. For example, you might introduce two connections who can share best practices, learn from each other, and grow their networks by swapping stories and contacts.

If you embrace this sort of acts of kindness, you'll be seen as a valuable resource for the people in your network—and when you’re ready to ask for a favor, they’ll plenty of reasons to help.

For more advice from leading executives on who to reap the benefits of social selling, download our latest eBook: Proven Strategies From the World's Top Sales Professionals.