As business owners, one of our main goals is to make money -right?  Sure, we love making connections and many of us enjoy the work that we do, but a nice conversation isn’t going to put gas in the car or food on the table.  Or is it?  I give away a lot of free advice.  Really, I do.  I spend hours with people I know or who I’ve just met and I give them tips and tricks to help get their businesses moving on social media platforms.  I listen to their issues and help tailor strategies for them to use.  I share my experiences with social media.  I explain the various platforms and the benefits of using them.  I talk about Facebook contests and hashtags on Twitter.  I spread valuable and reliable advice around so that people can do these things for themselves.  If you know anything about our company, you know that we offer these services.  We sell these ideas.  Social media management/consulting is a big piece of our company.  So, what do we get out of having these talks and giving this advice away for free? 

Well, the biggest component is name recognition.  I am not shoving a sales pitch down your throat, but rather I’m helping you out when you need it.  Later, down the line, when someone else asks you about needing a website built or needing social media assistance -who are you going to refer?  A name you saw on some ad or me, the person who sat down with you for 90 minutes to talk you though it?  Most likely it will be me. 

When I have these talks and take that time to help people and build that trust -they remember.  It’s not a misguided trust either.  I’m not pretending to help you so that in 6 months when you have a friend that needs someone to manage their Facebook page you’ll think of me.  I really am offering you assistance because in 6 months when you have that friend to refer you really can trust me.  I know what I’m talking about and that is why our customers feel comfortable with us and comfortable referring others to us.

In addition to sitting down one on one, I actually give presentations.  For free.  At chamber events and the like I will stand up and give a talk on social media for free.  I may not be getting paid for it, but I am receiving recognition for it.  I can stand up before a room full of people and share information on social media marketing strategies that they’ve never thought of before.  Information that can help their social media presence transform. And maybe, down the road, when they (or someone they know) have an issue or need help managing their accounts/running a contest/starting an ad campaign/etc. they will think of me and how accurate and reliable my information was and come to me.

I’m working to establish my reputation with the people around me to show that I am a reliable business to receive social media management services from.  I encourage other businesses to use this same sort of twist on networking.  The next mixer or chamber event you attend, go in with a different mind set.  Don’t show up trying to sell yourself to the whole room.  Instead, go in with your skill set and help someone.  Remember that that act can turn around down the road and come back to you in the form of a client.

Anyone else giving services away for free to establish a relationship and name recognition?  Has it helped or hurt your business in any way?  Comment below!