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I hope sometime soon the word “social” drops off the front end of media and networking. Content and digital channels get the credit they deserve, especially for those who intentionally understand, use, and engage with others who do the same.

I have heard that LinkedIn has dropped the term “social selling.” Not sure if that is true. If so, perhaps they’ve adopted a new name, or perhaps they just refer to selling through digital intelligence and networking, as selling.

Selling and recruiting is best done by gaining, positioning and creating credibility, not hype. Still, with so many people focused on their own social media following, it’s a bit confusing to figure out what really works.

It’s important to determine what your end game is – Is it followers, popularity, credibility, social influence or developing relationships that can turn into business opportunities?

At Intero, we work with a number of CEOs, business owners, salespeople, and recruiters, none of whom introduce themselves by referencing their Twitter followers or YouTube views stats. Our clients and prospects are much less concerned with social influence and far more focused on the business driven by the strategy and process we help them implement.

If popularity and being a social influencer is paramount, that’s fine. Just know it may or may not turn into new business or finding the right talent. The most popular girl or guy in high school may not be the person who ends up in the best college or lands the best job after college.

Do you want your digital initiatives and network to become your inbound marketing channel? Do you want to give up the more traditional sales process for social selling?

Social influence has its place, and every buying committee has a person or group that wields lots of influence. Social influence is just like Word of Mouth marketing or reviews, right? Note that influence is not popularity. In her article, 10 Vital Steps to Building Social Influence, Rebecca Murtagh talks about how popularity is fleeting but influence lasts. Which also means there needs to be substance. You can’t create lasting influence when you and your product or expertise is thin, spoon fed to you or theory not applied or tested.

If your goal as a business owner, CEO, salesperson or recruiter is social influence, then grow your network and know you will most likely have a network of strangers.   

Once again, the people I know along with our clients seek results with new business or talent for their company. My advice is to start with people you know in a company and add new Connections through those people; the people you call Centers of Influence and are your best referral partners.

The path to growing your business is not through having the most connections and not knowing the people in your network. Rather, it’s through developing your brand, expertise, thought leadership and sharing it generously with those who also value building relationships with other business professionals. Oh, and working with intention and purpose.

You decide who you want to be. And, maybe you can even be one of the folks who can be both popular and successful but don’t bet the farm on it.