Unless you have been sleeping under a log for the last six or seven years, you know that social media has changed the sales world. Unfortunately, many people don’t know exactly how to convert their network contacts into sales.

You can have thousands of people in your social media network, but unless you actually “work” that network, you may just be wasting your time.

Here are two ways to work your social media network and generate real sales as a result:

Introductions. Who in your network might be able to introduce you to a key decision-maker? I recently connected with someone on LinkedIn and after scrolling through this person’s contacts, I realized that he was connected to someone who worked at a company with whom I hoped to do business.

I reached out to my contact and asked if he would be willing to connect me with my target prospect. Within 48 hours, I had had a productive telephone conversation with that prospect.

I have to admit that I was somewhat hesitant to make my initial request, because I was concerned that I might offend my contact. I knew that we had a good relationship and that I had delivered great results while I worked with his company, but still I breathed a sigh of relief when he agreed to introduce me.

 Insight. Your network can offer insight into a company of interest. If you plan to approach a company to sell your product or service, look at your network and see if anyone knows someone at that company or has done business there. Your contact might be able to shed light on the company’s goals and challenges or provide insight into your prospect’s personality, likes, dislikes and preferences.

For example, if you learn that your prospect is a hard-driving individual, you may want to avoid a long, drawn-out sales pitch and focus directly on results instead. But, if your prospect has an analytical mind, you will need to provide lots of detail and data and avoid telling long-winded stories.

You may also discover that your prospect prefers email or text to talking on the telephone. Or prefers interacting face-to-face to doing so virtually. I have a few prospects and customers who prefer to communicate via direct message on Twitter. One customer communicates strictly via email, while another one likes telephone conversations.

The goal here is to examine the contacts you have made in your network to see how they can help you take the next step toward achieving your goals.

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