handshake

It’s pretty amazing the revelations that one can learn from a conversation with the Old Man.

We’ve been traveling a lot this year for a wide variety of reasons—some good, others not so much—including several days that included last weekend. On this particular trip, we finally had enough time to eat lunch with my dad and stepmom.

Just prior tomy trip, I had send my dad several of my articles that I’ve published on LinkedIn, here on Business2Community, and elsewhere.

The Conversation

While at lunch, he told me that while he didn’t really understand all of the LinkedIn/Twitter/other platforms “stuff” I taught, he did understand the networking and relationship side of sales. (He’s retired now, but he owned a manufacturer’s rep company for many, many years.)

He certainly didn’t like to cold call, but he did it as part of his sales strategy. But he definitely wanted to move his clients and suppliers alike from a cold call to a true relationship.

“I’d travel, take them to lunch or coffee, play golf with them, and really build relationships with them,” he said. He’s still friends with several of those people, and even goes to Ohio State football games, among other activities, with them.

Considering how successful he was in his business, and even without the tools we have access to nowadays, I’d say he networked rather well.

The Take-Away

During that conversation, I experienced a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious).

I had always used tools like LinkedIn as part of my networking strategy. I even taught others how to do it as far back as 2008. And now, I’m training and coaching the process of Social Selling as my profession.

After my lunch, though, I realized I was teaching and using Social Selling in a way that’s probably not 100% right. With all of the tools, techniques and strategies involved with the “electronic” part of Social Selling, I’ve been concentrating more on the platforms, and a bit less on actual relationship building.

I think that’s where many people who balk at the concept of Social Selling are at right now. They see it as something that’s too new—too entirely new, actually—to take the time to learn and master. They see LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., and think, “this is too much.”

Keep in mind that all of these Social Selling platforms and tools are just that: Tools. The networking part of things is still crucial.

Social Selling: Online Tools = Good Ol’ Handshake Networking

So something for me to keep in mind (and you, too, of course) is that Social Selling isnot about just mastering tech tools to increase page views/LinkedIn Profile views, put faceless contacts and prospects into a pipeline, or (the worst) increasing the number of one’s connections, followers or page likes.

In a nutshell, Social Selling is about about using online tools, techniques and templates to supplement and augment what many in sales, business development and even business ownership should already be doing: Networking and building relationships. These tools are a means to an end. They’re not “the end.”

I’ve already written a lot about using these tools, especially LinkedIn. Because Social Selling does involve platforms like LinkedIn and others (Twitter, Pinterest, Google+… even Facebook), I’ll continue to write about them in the future. But my conversation with the Old Man has taught me to focus much more of my teaching and writing on the human networking element of sales.

So should you.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.