Your future as a merchandising rep lies in your relationship with the brands you represent. These brands aren’t sunglasses and sneakers, they are people. They are the livelihoods of everyone who produces them, and the face of the person with whom you connect on a regular basis. That face deserves a place in your circle of friends.
Let’s review what friends do. Friends connect. Friends share stories. Friends help. Friends also bleed for one another. That’s right. Your connection to the people in your circle of brands needs to be personal, genuine, supportive, real. Of course, I’m not talking about sharing your love life or your latest doctor’s visit, but personal isn’t private. It’s genuine, supportive, real.
It means you include them in a Facebook group and post daily. Post things that encourage when you know one of them is going through a rough patch. Post things that make them smile when it’s Wednesday and will this week ever end. Touch their lives by being real enough to post something personal to you that you know is a struggle for one of them. Connect, and connect daily.
It means you know their kids’ names and what’s important to them. You have an open eye on topics that might be of interest to them and share those topics in your group. It’s okay—no one is going to share something uber-personal that you find embarrassing. They would find it embarrassing, too. The thing is, these people whom you meet live at work eight hours (or more) a day, but they live their lives outside the office. Those are the things that matter to them. Be interested in what matters to them.
It means the aren’t just a paycheck. They are real connections, heart to heart, I-know-how-you-feel connections. Like it or not, we live in a digital age, and our connections are online. I know, a phone call is sometimes the most important connection you can make, but for the sake of the group, still connect daily on Facebook. For one thing, these people all know you represent them, and there will be an unspoken agreement that they are in this together. That helps your business, right? It also helps them.
The Rule of 5 always applies. For every five posts that build relationships, you may use one self-serving post that builds your business. Share educational material. Share a meme about a holiday. Share something funny. Share how something engaging. Share something of universal interest. Boom! Share a picture of a dynamite display you just set up, or a new display gizmo that will do wonders for their brands. See how it’s done?
Some social rules do apply. Read up on the dos and don’ts to be professional, yet open. Social media experts emphasize adding value to your posts. Absolutely. Add people who represent businesses and who want to be included. They aren’t your brands yet, but they have asked to be included. It’s called building your network. Through it all, have a heart and show it online.