Jun 242012
 

Business Social Networking

Business social networking has become the fastest, easiest, and most profitable way to enhance a business’s marketing in today’s economy.

Internet marketing is only part of a marketing campaign; print, radio, cell phones, promotional items, all still have their place, but have certainly lost market share. (I know, like you didn’t already know this. :-p)

So what do we do? What are our options? How do we know where we should and shouldn’t invest our time? The most popular business social networking sites are Linkedin and Plaxo, but social networking as a whole can be used for business regardless of the platform.

Think of each social networking site from the business perspective that this is the largest networking event you have ever attended and what is even better than that is every person there is an ideal referral partner for you! The internet has provided us the most sophisticated tools to build relationships and target market. Surprise! Relationships come first. The way people make buying decisions has changed.

We have gone to a “push marketing,” which is really just interruptive marketing mainly done through commercials to a much easier, less expensive, and more profitable way. In your business social networking and through your website you have the opportunity to position yourself in front of the people who are looking for your service already. This is called “pull marketing.” Drawing ideal customers and partners to you through strategic planning may not seem as easy as it sounds, but it tightens the real competition out there.

Through each business the social networking strategy is going to be different, that is actually a big factor of why it works, but everyone must provide a different experience. If there were a cookie cutter social networking business plan everyone would be making a killing online. Rest assured that is definitely not the case.

Just because you set up a profile on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and started blogging doesn’t mean any of that is going to translate into anything at all. If you are a newbie focus on one thing at a time, understand the functions of each tool, identify other campaigns out there you like that are working and see how they differentiate themselves. Then you can begin to piece together an explosive marketing plan. You opportunity to engage users, add value, prompt action, and ADD VALUE must be alive in your messages at all times. Adding value is the key when using social networking for business.

By becoming a valued resource you are positioning yourself as an authority in your field. Linkedin, the largest business social network, notices this when people answer questions that others post. The user gets an opportunity to rate the “experts” answer and the “expert” over time gets higher and higher ratings based on the quality of their response.

Here is just a snap shot of how I use two social networks in my business:

It all starts with relationships, but each network has its own unique ways of filtering people out and identifying who I really want to build a relationship with.

Facebook– I use to identify centers of influence in different cities. I want to know: Who is running networking events and internet marketing training events for businesses? Who are attending these events? Who manages businesses social networking presence?

These are three key questions I ask when identifying someone I want to connect with on Facebook.

Linkedin– I want to identify other professional speakers, social media business managers, and those running events.

Once these I have identified these people I go and learn as much about them as possible so I can intelligently make a connection and build a relationship. (I know, crazy stuff right?!?) Does this really sound any different than what you would do at a typical live networking event?

There you have it, you are doing “business social networking” every day you go out to market your business, just use those same in person principles online and offline!

Jun 102012
 

Business Social Networking- LinkedinBusiness Social Networking: Build numbers or build relationships? You may have asked yourself after hearing all this stuff about connecting with your audience “How can I possibly create a relationship with all the friend requests?” Let’s get into a few strategies on how to do it timely and effectively.

Today it seems like everyone is concerned with acquiring one the many labels out there, which provide more and more false sense of accomplishment every day. There are the LinkedIn LIONs (Linked In Open Networker) with more than 500 1st generation connections, then the Twitter Gurus with tens of thousands of followers , and let’s not forget the Facebook Ninjas with their multiple thousands of “friends.”

Business Social Networking Guru'sDoes any of this really matter? Yes and No. Obviously you want a large audience and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking all you need is more connections, but most of us sacrifice relationships for numbers. With all the marketing mediums changing everyday people DO NOT want to be sold to. Now think about the strategy of just building large numbers of connections, what are you going to do with them once you have them?

Your goal may be to add value, but you barley know anything about the audience so how can you possibly add value to thousands of people that you don’t even know?

The answer is: it is a massive hit or miss.

Quality over quantity. This is the difference between working smart or working hard. Obviously having a large number of contacts is great, you don’t want a small audience of only a bunch of people you know. “New blood” is the life-source any business, however time must be dedicated to interacting with select people you have deemed your “Hot Prospects.”

Business Social Networking Ninja!These are people you have personally looked into and have determined that developing a relationship could be mutually beneficial.

Ok, but what can I do to continue building a strong following, personalize select connections, and manage my time most effectively?

Here are 4 ideas to help you out:

1) Create Lists

You can create lists on each of the networks. (On LinkedIn they are called Tags) What is great about creating lists is it enables you to categorize your contacts. So instead of having just a big hodgepodge of people you have them organized into categories set to your specification so you can keep an eye on the key players you want to build a stronger relationship with.

2) Use Social Media Dashboards

Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are the first 2 that come to mind. There are quite a few out there here is a link to a great review site for many of others Click HERE. These help you organize multiple social networks in one place so you can organize your lists and communicate with everyone without having to log in to all the sites directly.

3) Talk to you new connections

No I did not use talk as a metaphor for email, dm, private message, or inmail. Actually use a phone for something other than taking pictures or going online and call someone! If getting away from your computer is too much of a stretch use Skype.

You will be amazed at someone’s willingness to talk with you. We are so accustomed to all of the digital forms of communication when someone we meet online asks to speak with us that it is a HUGE pattern interrupt and they almost can help but saying “Sure.”

Try to set just a few phone appointments with new connections a week and watch how your exposure, traffic, and credibility increase.

4) Exponentially expand your network

Two tools I enjoy are Toplinked and Tweetadder. It may seem like I am contradicting myself a little here, but I think having more friend requests to sort from empowers you to be a little more choosey when adding new contacts. Big numbers can really become more of an ego booster than an income generator if not utilized properly.

I would much rather sort through inbound connections than blindly search. At least these people potentially have some kind of interest in you. Although, every 2-3 weeks I do a personal search for some interesting people to start trying to connect with.

Pretty much what this all sums up to is plant the seeds now and reap the harvest later. I know kind of an obvious notion, but the success in using social networking for business stems from mastering the mundane.

Master the simple tasks over time and you will be astonished how your business’s social networks are going to begin spinning off income.

What is your favorite social networking tool?