Facebook less. Book more face. Go have lunch!

Facebook less and book more face and your social media marketing will flourish

Connecting with people on a personal level is direct marketing at its basic and best. And it makes your work life happier and more productive. If you have 500 connections on Linked-In, but only have lunch with targeted peers and clients twice a month, put the smart phone down and find somebody to take to lunch.

Meeting with people in person is the most powerful and effective strategy in marketing and media relations. There’s simply no substitute for your face, your laughter and your personal anecdotes over lunch. Everybody loves a story and a human being behind the story. And everybody prefers to meet with people they already know because it’s less awkward. When you genuinely know the people you connect with on social media, it also reduces tension when you have to reach out to clients, peers and allies in tough times. And you discover ways to help each other.

So in order to diminish your awkward quotient, you must meet with more people more often. If you feel intimidated by the intimacy of a one-on-one lunch, invite somebody to go with you. Lunching in threes eases the performance pressure some people feel when presented with a face-to-face meeting. Know who you are and address it head on.

And if you’re concerned about running up a big lunch bill, then meet people for coffee or a walk. Lots of people, especially in the Northwest, love the idea of going for a mid-afternoon walk to break up their sedentary time in the office. You both create a shared experience while improving your health.

I make it my business to ensure my clients, peers and professional allies know me as a human being first. This builds trust and confidence in our relationship, especially when faced with a difficult situation that may put us at odds. Building this kind of trust can turn a crisis situation into a bold opportunity.

My No. 1 recommendation for building market share, referrals, allies and friendly media is to develop a direct outreach plan for the year. And this includes meeting with allies and adversaries if you want to dominate your professional universe. Ask yourself this question: How often do I have lunch or coffee with a client or professional peer each week? If you have lunch or coffee just once a day, five days week with one targeted client or peer, you are potentially generating 20 “referral ambassadors” a month. Clearly, with whom you choose to meet can dramatically increase that referral number if you are smart about it. Meeting with people who are savvy, high-traffic networkers is key. You should make clients and prospective clients your first priority. Adversaries and problem partners are second. Vendors and business partners are third.

People who know their friends and enemies simply get more things done for their clients. They see bridges, not walls. They build a strong social media network that brings real value to their business. And they book more face.