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!

Dec 072011
 

There is without a doubt a surplus of professional business networking events to attend as well as an increasing number of trainings to help business owners with social networking going on across the country. But, take a moment to think about your actions… Have you become a professional meeting attender??

(Yes, I am aware attender is not a real word, but attending meetings for a living isn’t a real business.)

After hosting networking events and trainings for the last 5 years it is both exciting and frustrating to see the waves of people come in and out. Everyone is “trying” to grow their business, they go out and attend everything imaginable, which is the exciting part. However, it seems like a crazy high percentage of people never implement anything at all!

Whether you are at a professional networking event or are starting to take part in social networking for business purposes the philosophy behind your objective is universal; connect with and help as many people as possible and then you will make more money. This is not rocket science.

Surely those of you who have been to a live professional networking event have encountered those obnoxious people who walk in with a stack of business cards and their only objective is to get rid of all of them, because “that’s marketing.” Is this really so different than logging onto Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or any of the other hundred social networks you are trying to use for your business and seeing the guy who thinks posting, “Hey, this is what I do! Check me out and let me know if I can help you.”

How self centered are we to think that anyone cares about who we are or what we do?

Whether live or online the interaction that will turn into a potential business relationship looks like this:

  • Introduction (Meeting and learning about one another, no pitching or looking at people like they have dollar signs shooting out of their head.)
  • Identifying ways to help your new friend accomplish something in order to get them closer to a goal that they have. (Helping other people may very well help us advance our business as well… WOW, who’d a thunk it?!?)
  • Then it is really all about staying on each others radar. Having a meeting every now and then, communicating online, checking in to see how everything is going. (You know, developing a friendship)

(Yes, I am also aware I am being very condescending. My objective is to show you how simple the process can be if you allow it, and also to save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars “trying” to figure it out.)

These 3 basic principals work, and they work at live professional networking events or online when messing with your businesses social networking.

How much time should you spend networking online and in person? Well that really depends on just how friendly and resourceful you really are.

Meetings, trainings, and events are great, but when do you get to the point where you stop “trying” and start “DOING!”

I wish for you the greatest amount of success with both your professional networking efforts and in your business social networking.

Have an awesome day!

Oct 152010
 

Are you ready to stop chasing the next dollar and start really building a business through social networking? Than these are 4 invaluable tips you must adopt today.

Before you can solidify your decision to take your business’s social networking to the next level you need to accept that this whole technology wave isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it has barely even started! There is probably some 13 year old kid in Wyoming messing around with an idea that is going to blow away everything we already think we know.

Everyone out there who is not only serious about their business’s online presence, but is also making money from it, understands this whole concept goes deeper than just setting up a website and a bunch of social media profiles. These people have taken these 4 steps that work wonderfully offline and implemented them online.

#1. Become an Attractive Member of the Community

Your presence is what makes you approachable. Your approachability is the determining factor to whether or not most people will choose to engage you further.

Build your name and your reputation into something that is appreciated and recognized, even if it is by only a few at first. Everything must start somewhere. The second you adopt the philosophy “I can’t achieve what they did,” you lost. McDonalds, Coca Cola, Oreo, and every other house hold name brand did not start out like that.

It is the little things compounded over time that establishes your reputation and creates massive success.

#2. Engage with others regularly

I have worked at home and I have had an office; do you know where my business grew the most? Panera Bread! Why? Because I was surrounded by people I didn’t know.

Every time I had a meeting over lunch or coffee I was engaging with the person I was meeting with, but more importantly I was engaging with everyone around me who could overhear my conversation. Meeting after meeting someone would approach me afterwards or sometimes even during the meeting, and ask for a card or pass me theirs for me to contact them.

Sharing, commenting, blogging, tweeting, re-tweeting, and all the other forms of communication we partake in online do not go unnoticed. Answering questions on LinkedIn, unconditionally (fancy way of saying don’t pitch to the people you respond to) has led to countless deals for so many people, because someone else with the same questions went back and read the thread and contacted the perceived expert.

#3. Know Where to Spend Time

If you have a lawn maintenance company it wouldn’t be the best use of your time to go to a health and wellness expo trolling for clients, right?

Learn how to categorize your contacts after doing your research.

Ninety plus percent of us are guilty of logging into Facebook and four hours later we are watching Youtube videos when we look up say “Whoa! Where did the day go?”

One of the coolest features in pretty much all the social networks you use for your business is lists. Once you have these lists created you don’t have to subject yourself to the noise of all the people, who are still valuable, but who you just have not yet researched. This will reduce your time messing around online exponentially.

(Click on Tutorials to learn more about list)

#4. Be Yourself

I love what Gary Vaynechuck says in this video, “When our grandparents did dumb $#!* it got lost in history, yea its gone. Everything you do wrong it’s gonna be known for ever.”

Let your personality shine through, sharing and posting things that you like, that are funny, or you just think is cool draws the attentions of those who dig the same stuff as you do.

There is absolutely, positively no cookie cutter business social media plan, or any internet marketing plan for that matter. You can talk to 10 facebook “experts” and get 10 different ideas/ strategies. Does that make 9 out of 10 wrong, NO!

Business social networking is a profitable way of marketing, the only downside for most businesses is that you need to stay on top of new trends. Please share any golden nuggets of your own below!