Social media, scuba diving, facebook fan page, Aggressor, what do all these have in common? They are the elements that make up my next great vacation…and my dream job!

During my diving days, I worked for a liveaboard dive boat called the Cayman Aggressor. Recently, while exploring job possibilities I did some preliminary chatting with a couple of liveaboard dive companies about doing their internet sales. I believe that my job as an online sales consultant for new homes, can easily translate into a valuable position selling liveaboard scuba diving.

In a nutshell, I currently find out what people want in a new home and then match their needs to one of our 14 communities and 88 floor plans. I keep in touch with them for weeks, months and years informing them of new offerings. Eventually, through a team effort with our site agents, we sell them a home. Inevitably I lose people along the way, but with a current average of 39% of overall sales for the company, I think I build more relationships than burn bridges.

In the course of talking with some of the liveaboard dive companies I found that they only wanted a social media person, and not someone to do internet sales. They wanted to leave sales in the hands of their reservationists. I found it interesting that in one breath they were ready to embrace new media, and in the next, they were stuck with their old out dated business model.

The key element of my current job is follow-up, follow-up, follow-up…it’s a unique person who has the tenacity and the organization to be an online sales consultant. You continually build the relationship in the hopes that someday, when finally ready to buy, they will choose your company. Not just because of the amazing product you sell, but also because of the relationship that you have built. It was this idea that I wanted to bring to the liveaboard dive industry because I know it simply isn’t their mode of operation.

Through personal experience with dozens of dive companies over the years, I know that follow-up is a key element lacking amongst almost all of them. If they don’t sell you in the first week, then out of site out of mind. I never heard back from them on a personal level with mouth watering offers. They don’t try to break down my armor and make me spend my money. There is no one building this kind of relationship with me. And with all the opportunities for dive vacations out there, it is the company who makes that effort that will win (39% of the time perhaps? Maybe more?)

Ironically it was this failed foray that made me take a deeper look into all things SM. I asked myself, “What is it? How is this better than what I already do?” I came to an interesting conclusion. While dynamically running across many mediums and possibilities, social media ultimately, at it’s core, is a relationship building tool that compliments my current efforts. But does not replace them.

The way I see social media is that you are investing into a long term plan building recognition while hoping to capture attention and build relationships. It is great for diversifying your overall media plan, but why dismiss people who are calling in for information? Why not put them into a detailed follow-up system? They may not follow you on facebook and twitter, but they are already inquiring about your product. They just needs the right combination of factors to create a need to buy. You have no idea when the right factors will come together to make that expensive dream vacation feasible. But don’t you want to be the one that built the relationship when they are ready to release those dollars to the seas? This kind of ROI is far more quantifiable than SM. While I’m enjoying using social media in my current position, I believe it’s an additional layer to relationship building and not a replacement for good old fashioned follow-up.

But alas, in trying to convince liveaboard dive companies that they needed (Me) an internet sales consultant, it led me to explore and embrace Social Media. And in that effort I began following them on facebook and twitter and found the offering of an incredible deal aboard the Turks and Caicos Aggressor, a sister ship to my first liveaboard diving job a decade ago. Quantifiable ROI in Social Media! I really hope someday one of these amazing companies will change their mind, see the value in crazy detailed, personal follow-up and grant me my dream job of selling while implementing social media for a liveaboard dive company.

But for now, social media reunited me with my old family the Aggressor to take a killer vacation, at an amazing price. I can’t wait for the first dive! Thank you facebook! Thank you Aggressor! Thank you Social Media!