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Using Twitter to Build Your Online Business

As a direct sales professional, my first taste of success came when I discovered the power of the internet. In less than 90 days, I built a national team in a party plan company and promoted to leadership for the first time after more than a decade in the industry.

Then came social media. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube created an entirely new landscape to reach prospects, build business, and grow my organization.

And I was scared out of my mind.

See, I didn’t “get” the concept of social media. I was socially awkward myself. Plus, with all the confusing rules that most companies have about “internet advertising” I couldn’t figure out a way to navigate the social media landscape without pulling out my hair.

First, I went to MySpace, but with so much spam, and “fake accounts” I couldn’t tell who was real and who was scamming me. So I left.

I set up my twitter account and started following people. I didn’t understand why people were talking about what they ate for breakfast. How’s that beneficial to business?

So then I went to facebook, where it seemed like everybody I knew was “hanging out”. But there were so many applications. People were “poking” me, asking me to be in their “mafia war” or help them work on their garden in “farmville”, and it was maddening. Then, I got sucked into one of those games myself, and found i was spending more time playing than I was building relationships.

And I was too scared to do video. In fact, if it weren’t for a contest that Mark Joyner put together, I probably would never had made a video in the first place. In fact, I didn’t even use a video camera in my first video, just a picture, my voice, and some music I wrote. I ended up with an honorable mention in the contest, and a little less fear about doing video.

But I still wasn’t keen on the idea, so back to twitter I went.

This time, I just watched for a bit. Trying to figure out who I really wanted to connect with. I figured that if I was just talking to myself, I wouldn’t be too productive. So I started following people I wanted to learn more from. I watched what they were doing, who they were talking to and what they were saying to generate followers.

It didn’t take long to figure out I was doing some things wrong – and a few things right. That first year, I earned more than $30,000 because of twitter. Plus, I made some great contacts and new friends. REAL friends, which surprised me. And while I still don’t have fifty gazillion followers on twitter, the relationships I have are high-quality, conversational and engaging. I actually know most of the folks I “follow back” on twitter, and that’s a good feeling. Here are some lessons learned that may help you use twitter to grow your own direct sales business.

Five Tips To Build Your Direct Sales Business Using Twitter

  1. Have a plan. When I first started, I followed everybody – including the spammers and robots. I had autofollow on and it nearly killed me. Every time you follow someone, they now have permission to send you private messages (called DM’s). My inbox lit up like a Christmas tree with all the spam messages being sent. I turned off autofollow and developed a strategy to engage with thought leaders, authors, and other real people with whom I wanted to connect.
  2. Have something to say. You can follow people all day, but until you start speaking your own mind, people won’t know you exist. Because I don’t autofollow, if you start following me, unless you actually speak to me (tweet, re-tweet or otherwise lets me know you’re human), I don’t follow you back. Many people are the same way. Ask a question. That’s how I met @LesMcKeown, best selling author of “Predictable Success“. He helped me build a new division of my company! Sharing an occasional quote is fine, but if that’s all you have to say, when will people ever get to hear who YOU really are?
  3. Share other big ideas. Retweet the people you follow. Not religiously (or chronically), but occasionally, as it best fits who you are. If you’re excited about an upcoming event, then tell your followers and share a link. Don’t just promote anything and everything, or you may be seen as a spammer.
  4. Take time out. You don’t need to pull a Scott Stratten and live on twitter for a month to build your following. In fact, even Scott’s acknowledged that his personal life suffered because he couldn’t put his “crackberry” down and stop tweeting. If you live on twitter, when does the work get done? Remember, it’s like a party. You don’t want to be the one that’s always closing down the joint. Take a day (or two) off. Hop on for a few minutes or an hour. Take time away from social media so that people will want to hear from you when you return.
  5. Don’t SPAM. Period. This means being mindful about the links you share. If you’ve got a special deal with the home office, sharing that link once or twice is okay, but if every tweet is your “special offer” it becomes a lot less special. A better choice is to promote a signup link for your newsletter (you do have one, don’t you?). Then you can promote the heck out of your special offer to your subscribers.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start for ideas to build your following, and make new friends (and clients) on twitter. If it worked for a socially awkward gal like me, just think how great your direct sales business could be!

© 2011 Lisa Robbin Young

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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales training and coaching to direct sales professionals looking to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at http://www.homepartysolution.com.

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Action Step: These are just a few of the tips I’ve shared with my clients over the years. If you’d like to learn more, this month’s Marketing Mentor call is on Friday at Noon ET. We’re talking about using Twitter to build your business. Sound like fun? Get registered here.

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