"Here's the big news," writes Andy Sernovitz in the book Social BOOM! "It's not social MEDIA. It's SOCIAL media. It's about real people and the conversations they have." In other words, a presence at online networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn isn't enough. To generate word-of-mouth leads, you'll also need excellent social skills—and here's how to go on the charm offensive:

Be interesting. Do you tell friends about dull companies, products or advertisements? Do you arrange introductions for people who bore you silly? Of course not. According to Sernovitz, there's a good way to gauge your word-of-mouth potential. Simply ask: Would anyone tell a friend about this?

Make it easy. Word-of-mouth relies on a simple message—a single, memorable line that people are likely to repeat when describing your product or service. "Anything longer than a sentence is too much," he says. "It'll get forgotten or mangled."

Make people happy. Customers who love your company will enthusiastically share their experiences with friends. "You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do," he notes.

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