To find out the number of seeds in an apple, one has only to look at the core and make a count. In thinking of this the other way around, it’s anyone’s guess as to the possibilities. The specific number can not be measured factually or scientifically because a single seed could yield an apple tree with countless seeds which can produce orchards of apples. This simple truth has been the cornerstone of other similar patterns of growth such as human population or the vast amounts of energy which can be produced by splitting a single atom. One fact which binds all of these analogies does ring true however, which is that if one does not plant the seed, there can be no growth of any kind.
In comparing this simple truth to your business, the pattern of growth from a single contact or referral can grow exponentially, and like the seeds of an apple, the more you sow, the more opportunities will grow in-kind. How about social media? Is this part of your growth strategy or are you relying only on traditional means of germination? No one can truly know the harvest which you will reap as a result of engaging or prospecting with social, but if you fail to plant, your chances of success are zero.
Consider this possibility. If you answered a post on Google+ or Twitter and this led to business in your favor, this could have far reaching effects that no one can conceive. Perhaps this prospect turned into a customer because of your foresight in taking the high-road by offering helpful advice and education as opposed to a fast-sale or hard-close (both of which are frowned upon in the social world). From this interaction, perhaps this prospect-turned-client appreciated your helpful advice and down-to-earth replies and rewarded you with a referral, which led to more business. Taking a lesson from your first client engagement, you planted good relations with this referral who turned into a second client who then referred you to others and before long you had over a hundred clients.
It is not out of the realm of possibility for this kind of behavior to occur, but in looking a bit further as to how this can manifest itself into the physical, an accounting must be done. First of all, there is no one who can dispute that netting this harvest from one response did not occur without some work. While the initial ‘seed’ may have produced a stellar bounty, it could have taken 20, 50 or even hundreds of answers and/or replies to get to this one client that started the chain reaction of good fortune. This is why many are quick to dismiss the return of social because, just like the physical world, there is no quick fix in which to build momentum. No different than the phrase ‘they were lucky’ to describe a flourishing business. Were the masses around when you were struggling to get started? Probably not, but yet they were the first to question how you were able to achieve your good results.
In proceeding forward in the face of adversity, taking not the path of least resistance in social media will always gain more over the easy and popular methods so common on the social web. This means that instead of wasting each collaboration with the thought of a quick return, being a good neighbor and offering neighborly advice is how you were able to gain in a sea of takers. Did this cost more of your time and did you have to give, even when you didn’t want to? Indeed. But in applying the highest quality fertilizer as opposed to hard gravel the rewards came eventually, and not when you thought it would, but in due season.
Multiplication, Not Addition
Another way of looking at effective prospecting online is through the analogy of a farmer. When the decision is made to yield a crop of wheat, there is some effort and planning that must be demonstrated before the reward of harvest. The first step is in the identification of the right ground so that when the farmer plants his good seed, it has a chance to take root and grow. This is done by weeding, harrowing, fertilizing and so on. Once the seeds are planted, the farmer has to ensure that the seeds are protected by application of water and removal of pestilence which can take weeks or months of hard work. If the farmer is true to his work and tends his crop carefully, he can expect to have a fruitful bounty, which will be paid in direct proportion to the effort applied, 30, 60, 100-fold.
Are you following the same course of action to your social strategy? Are you answering each and every post, message and follower, or just picking and choosing? Like the farmer, you can not bargain with success and if you expect a hearty reward, you must be willing to pay the full price. If you think to yourself that positive results will come, then they will if your actions do the talking. You have no idea of when your next win will come from, but if you only go after the ones who you think may ‘pan out’ or play roulette by answering just a portion of them, you will forever be stuck playing ‘odds’. The frustrating part about this is that the engagements that slipped through your net will get acquired by the one chooses to ‘work the field’.
Have you ever attempted to get water from an old-fashioned hand-pump? If it hasn’t been used in years, a lot of hand-cranking and elbow-grease is required to just get the gears working. It could take 30 minutes or more of continuous effort to get even the slightest drop of water. But… once the water starts flowing, the next time you prime the pump, it hardly takes any effort to get the same amount of water. Social media works exactly the same way.
The pump, the farmer’s crop and the apple seed are all in the business of multiplication which means that your rewards will produce in tandem with the amount of work that you choose to give. Yes, there is knowledge involved, and some social applications and networks that are more popular than others, but the knowledge is easy to gain if you are ‘after it’. Remember that the one who has all knowledge of social, but chooses not to use it profits nothing. Instead, expect to win and answer each post by focusing on their needs and your prize will be appear when you least expect it, which is as it should be.