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Dale Carnegie’s Principles in Social Media: Be A Good Listener

In communications today, everyone makes a big deal of how to correctly use social media to interact effectively with their prospects and clients. It almost seems like everyone sees social media as an new and groundbreaking communication ability.

However, social media is simply a new conduit that allows people to communicate and share information with other people.

And that’s the key. If we look at social media as a way to communicate with people, then the human relations and communication principles still apply.

When I look at all of the rules and strategies for using social media put forth by the gurus, I often find myself saying, “You know, we talked about this same behavior in the Dale Carnegie Course”.

A Misstep in a Social Media Relationship

Take this example here outlined by AG Salesworks on Social Prospecting.

The interaction is between a sales rep at an organization and a “possible prospect”.

The sales rep mentioned a publication from an author and the author thanked the rep, making an offer to help him in the future.

The sales rep then responded by offering a demo of their product. Incensed, the author called out the rep for not attempting to know him first. He then called out the sales rep for not even connecting with him on Twitter before making his sales pitch.

Now, how many times have you offered a demo to a new Twitter follower?  Or forget Twitter for the moment. How many times have you done this over the phone?

The important principle here is to listen to your audience first before making requests or offering a solution.

The Issue is Sales Reps Aren’t Listening

Since the early 1990’s, one of the biggest sales complaints from customers was that their sales reps weren’t listening to them. Customers felt that their sales reps were only pushing product. As a result, sales reps had to go back to school and learn how to be sensitive to our prospects’ needs.

We saw similar behavior from sales reps in their early networking activities. We were simply connecting to people in an attempt to again, push product. Today, networking consultants encourage you NOT to sell your products in the initial meeting. Instead you should first talk with the people in your network and get to know them.

In our Dale Carnegie sessions, we coach people to use the 7th human relations principle: Be a good listener and to encourage other people to talk about themselves. After all, you can’t talk to someone about a solution until you first get them talking about their problems. You can’t sell something to someone until you arouse in them an eager want to buy what you’re selling.

The creator of the post, AG Salesworks, went through great pains to mask out the organization because he didn’t want to call out any particular company for poor social media behavior.

However, I’ve seen similar behavior scattered across social media platforms from a number of companies. We’re all probably guilty of making requests similar to the one outlined by AG Salesworks in this post.

4 Tips for Listening on Social Media Networks

To increase our effective use of social media platforms,  we need to remain aware of our interactions with our audience. This means:

  1. Listening to your audience – Part 1.

    On social networks like Twitter, monitor your audience and respond appropriately to their requests.

  2. Listening to your audience – Part 2.

    Watch the output from your audience and understanding what concerns them.

  3. Listen to understand, not for the comeback.

    Stop listening only for the “zinger” and listen to what your audience is saying. I first heard about the “zinger” when I was in NLP doing couples’ therapy. In those situations, clients listened to the their partner just enough to find supporting material for their side of the argument.

  4. Responding to your audience.

    This means putting your ego aside and responding accordingly to your audience’s requests. If they are looking for information, provide the information they need, not, “oh, we have an app for that”.

In creating our social media networks, as with creating our networks or building a relationship for sales, begin by being a good listener and encouraging your audience to talk, tweet, or communicate about themselves. They will tell you everything you need to know to move the relationship forward.