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!

May 302012
 

Become the Business Social Networking Terminator!“T” factor? Who do I Terminate? My business’s social networking plan doesn’t address this!

Think for a moment why people would come back to your site. Needless to say great content is a must, but are you creating a personal experience?

The “T” factor helps you terminate your competition and portrays you as a more approachable resource. What I am referring to is Transparency.

Transparency in your online and offline business networking efforts is what humanizes your audience’s perception of you. All of these “new” ways of marketing seem to have people thinking that; 1. They really are new ideas, and 2. The more money they throw at it the more ROI they will make.

Let’s clarify this and give you some strategies to implement that will help you become more valuable and expand your viral growth.

None of these new age techniques are new. The internet is a new player, but the game is still the same. I just started watching the show “Mad Men,” it is about the early stages of advertising companies in the 60’s. Very cool show, but their objectives are the same as today’s advertisers.

Get your audience talking and raving about you!

Word-of-mouth is and always has been the strongest form of advertising known to man. How does this relate to being transparent? Well, would you be more likely to refer someone to contact, website, or business that has a persona of being stuffy, serious, always business, and almost seems scripted in conversations?

Probably not.

You would however, refer someone with personality, friendliness, and an openness to help? In a heartbeat!

Even the standard term “business networking” has evolved into “business social networking,” or “social business networking.Social is the key word.

How are you incentivizing and socializing with your audience to make them raving fans? Spending more money on banner ads and commercials will continue to show a smaller and smaller ROI. Investing in customer communication and customer gratitude will exponentially increase your earnings.

Top secret tip of the day:

Ok, I just implemented this and it has already shown to be an easy, and awesome way to grow a group or fan page virally. It starts on your website.

1. You have your opt-in box giving something of value on your website. (If you have one and nobody is taking advantage of your offer… Change it!)

2. The next page, for me, is an email confirmation page.

3. Once email is confirmed you are sent to a “Welcome and Thank You” page that has a contest with instructions that most people will take advantage of.

My page looks like this:

Welcome and Thank You for subscribing to BNL’s email list!

Every month we are giving away a $25 Visa Gift card!

Please see details or watch short video tutorial below

To get involved all you need to do is:

  1. Become a fan of BNL on Facebook
  2. Tag BNL in a post sharing this link http://businessnetworkinglife.com (To “tag” someone put the @ directly before typing someone’s name)

If you need a little visual watch the video.

When completed your post should look something like this:

Business Social Networking Resource Tag

Now I have captured somebody’s email with an offer of value, and made a secondary value offer for a chance at $25 to share something they have already seen value in. Even if you have 1-3 people a day doing this is it worth $25 a month for 30+ people talking about why everyone should check your site out?

Business social networking will continue to evolve and it is imperative for you to share your personality and humbleness to your audience while providing incredible value.

Let us know one super awesome strategy that has helped you in your business.

May 222012
 

Guest Post By: Katie Krienitz, COO or The Wealth Building Annex

Being passionate about your company is a vital component of every successful business owner. It may not always be the product or service you’re passionate about. It could be the marketing of that product or service, the systemization of the company, the management of the team, the execution of the sales process or even the development of new ideas that get your juices flowing. Wherever that passion lies, it’s crucial to constantly stay in contact with it..otherwise, it dies. And then, your business becomes WORK.

I was definitely in WORK mode a few weeks ago. Exhausted and burnt out, I sat in a fog during a team meeting as our marketing plan was discussed. One of the ways I experience joy in our business is in the details of our processes…making sure that our company is as systemized as possible. Apparently, my passion for this had served its purpose because there was no longer a need for the majority of my time to be spent on our systems. I have an incredible team that I can hand these systems over to, so my time was now free to market and bring in new members. And because I was not in touch with a passion for marketing, our business was now WORK to me.

Until...a brainstorm.

Chris, Mark and I sat at the table while committee meetings, events and networking ideas were discussed, none of which made me very excited. To be honest, my stomach began churning as I anticipated walking into each of these scenarios. While I love to connect with others and form strategic alliances, networking, committee meetings and events are not my strengths. I slumped in my chair and felt defeated. I saw the looks on their faces – business owners who loved to get involved in the ways that made me cringe. Frustrated and feeling lost, I suddenly blurted, “what other ways, besides joining committees and networking groups, can I get out there and connect with other business people?” Thoughtful stares, but nothing. The conversation resumed and went in different directions. A few minutes later, Mark brought up the Centre Club golf membership and suddenly, I sat up straight.

“Golf! I can golf with people!!!!” A seemingly easy concept had hit me hard. “It makes perfect sense! I’m an athlete. I love sports. I can incorporate my athletics into my marketing!” All the tension and pressure that had been building up over the past few weeks were immediately gone. “And I can pick up tennis again too!” There it was…my passion. Once again living in the same space with me and my business.

I know this sounds ridiculously simple. But as your relationship with your business matures and changes, the smallest of tweaks can have the most powerful effects. I felt horrible for a long time that I didn’t want to be a part of 20 committees and join 15 different networking groups. But with a simple twist of how I can embrace marketing in a way that excites me, I’m not WORKING anymore…I’m playing business builder. And I’d say my 227 yard drive on my first time out on the golf course says I’m playing to win! (yes, it was straight on the fairway).