Social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, have quickly become a popular way to communicate, even in a business context. These social media giants have created a huge opportunity to share valuable information with potential and existing clients, referral sources, alliance partners and employees, while enhancing your credibility and subtly promoting yourself, your profession and your work/ business. And the best part – it’s free.
Here are some guidelines and suggestions to help start you on your way or optimize what you are currently doing:
Create a profile: Sign up for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or a combination of the three and develop a profile. Include as much information as you are comfortable with people knowing about you. Focus on those aspects of your life and business that leave people reading your profile with a positive, favorable impression of who you are and what you do.
Search & listen: Search for and connect with individuals and groups of other business owners and self-employed professionals like yourself, who are interested in improving and growing their businesses. Key managers and decision makers in larger businesses are also worthy of your consideration. Read what they are writing and how they are communicating. Get to know their behaviors, preferences and methods of publishing and sharing information.
Define your objectives: Social networking is an additional “tool” that you can use in your marketing “toolbox.” It is not meant to replace direct marketing. You may be hurting rather than helping yourself if you use social networking to overtly sell yourself or your business services. Instead, get familiar with your audience and their desires. Become involved in their discussions and share your knowledge. Supply links to relevant industry news, events, videos and websites. Your audience will appreciate that you are knowledgeable about such issues. This will continue to enhance your credibility, build trust and, in some instances, help you become a center of influence, a “go-to” person, someone of value to others. It may eventually lead to new or additional business and referrals. One caveat to remember – once you post something, it is out there for all to see. Before you post anything, proof-read and be sure that you are indeed comfortable with the content.
As a reminder, use of trademarks, branding elements and intellectual property must be done in a professional and meaningful manner which represents our presence in today’s business communities.
It is vitally important to remember that Social Media SHOULD NOT replace face-to-face relationship building – this is just an additional avenue that many of you may wish to pursue away from normal business hours. Just as your office website, newsletter, blog, etc. are nice credibility builders, they cannot substitute personal relationship building and selling. Otherwise, it’s “fool’s gold.” Social Media, as a supplement to referral-based marketing can be a terrific, value-added approach – as a replacement it can derail your business.
If you have additional thoughts, questions or comments, please contact me at your convenience on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or simply email me. Better yet, call me at 608-787-5771. I would love to talk to you!