I’ve been talking to people about the whole concept of the digital referral: what it is, how to recognize it and how to inspire them to happen. Digital referrals increase when you actively participate on online conversations and create opportunities for others to notice.
To that end, here is a list of 15 things that you can do in less than 10 minutes per day.
- Share what you are doing with a status update. Be careful to avoid making your posts obvious self-promotion because once you run out of different versions, you start sounding like a broken record. There is no need to cross-post the same update to the different networks, after all, the audiences are very different. On Twitter, a short conversation (through @ replies) will be more powerful than a stand-alone post.
(Daily on Facebook, weekly on LinkedIn, and whatever frequency makes sense for you on Twitter: 1 minute.)
- Post a comment. Look for something interesting and post a comment that shows both you and the other people in the conversation in the best possible light. Don’t use comments to pick fights with people. If you have a good sense of humor, use it without making fun of the other person.
(Daily on Facebook, weekly on LinkedIn: 1 minute.)
- Monitor keywords and respond. Using Twitter Search, either through RSS or through a saved search directly on Twitter, monitor relevant keywords and phrases for your product, service, brand, name, etc. and respond to the conversation as appropriate.
(Daily on Twitter: 1 minute.)
- “Retweet” something relevant to your business or industry. As you are scanning down through your Twitter stream or search results, retweet something of interest, perhaps adding a short comment if it will fit in the 140 characters. People often acknowledge your retweet through an @ reply which shows up to their network as well. Do not overuse this (“Me too, me too, me too…”) otherwise it dilutes your own messages and people start to ignore your posts when everything is a retweet.
(Daily on Twitter: 1 minute or less.)
- Wish someone a “Happy Birthday.” On Facebook, look on bottom of the right-hand column which shows you upcoming events and birthdays. Nothing fancy is required other than a simple acknowledgement and the deluge of notification emails from your network will feel good that day. It reminds the person that you care.
(Daily on Facebook: 1 minute or less.)
- Invite someone to connect with you. Invite someone from your physical-world network to connect with you in the digital-world. It isn’t your job to “convert” people to use these networks, rather find out which networks people use and connect with them there. Make sure to customize the invitation message to “jog the memory” of the person that you want to connect to.
(Weekly on Facebook and LinkedIn: 1 minute.)
- Answer a question, suggest an expert, provide a resource. Specifically on LinkedIn, find topics that are relevant to your business and post answers to “fresh” questions. If a post has a ton of answers already, skip it. If a post looks like someone is trying to market themselves rather than ask a real question, skip it.
(Weekly on LinkedIn: 5 minutes.)
- Write a personal email just to say hello. Remember Dale Carnegie? Put some thought into your message. Ask how the person is doing, how his/her business is going, etc. Don’t promote yourself, but have links in your email signature in case the recipient wants to explore.
(Weekly via Email: 5 minutes.)
- Post a photo or video. Photos show up more prevalently than a regular status update, so mix in interesting photos. Don’t try to be Ansel Adams as the goal is to share interesting moments. Tag people in the photos if appropriate and not offensive to the person.
(Weekly on Facebook: 2-3 minutes.)
- Invite people into your non-business world. If invited people to your house, your guests will learn your different interests. You don’t have to post about everything, but give people the opportunity to find personal connections, such as, “I didn’t know you had young children too,” “We love going to the Franklin Institute,” “That movie was horrible, you should see (blank) instead,” “Had the same problem and (person) helped me out.” If the majority of your posts are business related, mix in occasional personal posts, it reminds people that you are human.
(Weekly on Facebook or Twitter: 1 minute)
- Write a recommendation. Make the recommendation meaningful, not plain vanilla, by giving the specifics. Tell a story about your experience with the person, make it powerful but not over the top.
(Weekly or Monthly on LinkedIn: 5 minutes.)
- Write a post on your blog or website. Share your professional insights using your voice on a relevant subject. What are the questions that you are asked most at parties? What if your customers discovered something about your industry and you were not the one to tell them, how would they then feel about you? That is what to share. If you share a link to an article, make sure to include your comments and thoughts rather than just the link.
(Weekly or Bi-Weekly: 10 minutes, you aren’t writing a novel.)
- Promote an event you are attending. Provide a link and a few short blurb about the event. There is no need to manage the event for someone else, your job is to simply help make the event a little better with a few extra people.
(Bi-weekly or monthly on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: 2 minutes.)
- Highlight someone or something interesting. Do something totally selfless. Use the @ mentions format to link properly to the person or Fan page or group. Make sure to include a sentence or two that is your story or reason for the mention.
(Bi-weekly on Facebook: 2 minutes.)
- Ask a question, moderate the answers and recognize an expert. Don’t post questions that are veiled attempts at self-promotion, ask real questions. People naturally explore your profile when you post questions. Questions give people the opportunity to show and be recognized for their expertise, so make sure to select which answers are “good” and the one that is “best.”
(Monthly on LinkedIn: 5 minutes.)
It is up to you to put together your own schedule for the month. I can almost guarantee that if you do 10 out of the 15 things above over the next six weeks, you will get more business opportunities.