busmeetingSocial media provides a wealth of information, but get offline to make the connection (and get the referral).

Many pundits preach that social media—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter—is the best thing in sales since sliced bread. (Read “Why Social Networks Won’t Build Your Business”.) They tell you that business development is leagues easier because information is at your fingertips: who you know, where you work, where you used to work, where you went to school, industry and company news, your connections (who you know and how), who you know in common…

Don’t believe the hype. Yes, social media provides information. But like data without analysis, information without a personal introduction (a referral) does not shortcut the sales journey. Information is helpful; it provides a richer picture of your prospect or connection. You gain more knowledge about your prospects and clients. But what good is all the information in the world if you can’t get the meeting? Referrals seal the deal.

Watch “Social Media for Sales Professionals,” Joanne’s interview with Kevin Gaither, CEO and founder of Inside Sales Recruiting. Learn how to use social media to your advantage.

Hot Sales Mean No Cold Calls

Referrals are a proven way to build your business—without ever making a cold call. Reaching out through social media without a personal introduction is, by definition, a cold call. The person you’re contacting does not expect your email, LinkedIn message, or phone call. Do your research online; connect offline.

Why would you waste your time making cold phone calls or sending cold emails? Go ahead; use social media as part of your research process. But use referrals to close more business in less time. Start thinking about how you spend your time and the type of payoff you want. Get that introduction!

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Where do you get your most-valuable sales intelligence? And how do you best leverage social media? What’s your biggest sales-research challenge, and how do you clear your hurdles? Comment here.