social media startupsAll of you old school salespeople: this series is for you. You folks are some of the hardest working in the business. You can hit the phones all day, cold call after cold call, and never miss a beat. You don’t get downtrodden if you get turned down all day, and you know you can turn it right around with one successful call.

But in this new age, there are a lot of new ways to make sales, other than just pounding the digits. Social media has changed the way we interact with one another, and there are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage for making sales. There’s a good chance you passed on getting to know social media when it was in its infancy, but there’s no better time to learn new tricks than now.

This series will help you individual sales folks learn tips and tricks for getting integrated into social media and how to leverage that into making sales. But first things first, and that’s creating a social media persona.

The Persona

Building your social media persona is the first step in getting you where you need to be in order to make sales using it. It’s a variety of steps that will help you figure out your priorities, and will help get you moving in the right direction.

Remember, before we start, that you can’t just pick to be on Facebook or Twitter or Google+. You have to go where your customers are. This will help you find out where.

The Research

1. Why are you doing this? Are you looking to social media for leads, or in order to become an expert and share your knowledge? Pick a number of reasons—maybe one, maybe five—and list them out.

2. Who is your audience? Who are you going after? It will depend a lot on your industry. My friend Larry, for example, is looking to automotive sales reps, influential people in the automotive industry, automotive event teams, and salespeople in general. He can design his entire social media strategy around his audience.

3. Who are your top connections? Here, you need to list two types of connections: the important industry people you already know, and the top voices in the industry you want to know. You’ll leverage the people you know to grow your social media following from there.

The Social Media

After you’ve got your list of why and who, it’s time to research the what and then get down to being social.

1. What are your top news sources? List as many industry news sources and blogs as you can. These will be articles you’ll want to share with people in the industry, because the news is important. You’re marketing yourself as a news channel. You’ll add these news sources as an RSS feed or to Hootesuite, which I’ll address in a future post.

2. Where can you contribute? Part of being in social media is becoming an expert in your industry. Experts share their knowledge via news sources—potentially the same news sources as you draw a lot of your content from—and you’ll want to see if you can contribute to them. Go in and look: how do you submit your own articles? Who do you have to work through? Make friends and use them.

3. Where can you hang your persona? OK, this one’s a lot simpler. Find a place in your cube or office to hang your persona that you’ll see it every day. This persona is essentially a list of goals, a list of things to consistently keep in mind. Check it every day, just like you would your other goals.

After you have your persona in place, you’ll be ready to start tackling the various forms of social media, and learning the ways that you can interact with them, making sales along the way.