Social Networking for business can be a real challenge.
Social networking is important for anyone in business, irrespective of your role. Many different books have been written; and entire courses have been taught on the topic. For some, social networking is a source of business leads, for others it’s simply a way to stay connected. It should become a big part of your company’s integrated marketing strategy.
The challenge is discovering the appropriate event or venue where you will be able to make the most number of relevant connections with the least amount of effort. This, of course, is an oversimplified statement. There are also personality issues; for example, introverts are probably going to be more uncomfortable than their extroverted peers.
The real challenge with social networking is being able to answer the “Why?” question. The obvious initial response is “to get more business” or “to get a better job”. But these answers are inherently self-serving; they are focused on what’s in it for me.
What is social networking?
I understand we all need to get something from social networking; however, I suggest the best way to accomplish this is to focus on three important “C” words, collaboration, curation, and connection.
I’ll admit, there isn’t anything here that is particularly new, what I am suggesting is creating a social media marketing strategy for your social networking activity. Instead of focusing on finding a particular event or a single channel, think about ways you can integrate what you know, with who you know, to bring added value to others. Make this your philosophy; allow it to inform all your activities.
3 C’s of Social Networking Will Apply Across All Channels
So here is how it works: Start with collaboration. All too often we are programmed to view the world from a scarcity perspective. We protect information, guard relationships in an effort to keep someone from taking advantage of us. Changing your mindset to one of collaboration affects your attitude, even your presence.
“How can I help you?” is an outlook that generates creativity and opportunity.
Curation is a term that is typically applied to content. For social networking, think about adapting what you know to who you know. Here is what I mean: Let’s say you come across an article or even an opportunity that may not be relevant for your needs; however, it may be very important to someone in your sphere of influence.
Judy Gombita is a great example. She is constantly sharing insights and information with others without the expectation of anything in return. Instead of just tossing a link to me, she will offer a brief explanation of context, this extra step adds immense value. This unselfish service on Judy’s part establishes her as a valuable thought leader within her network.
Connection is all about helping the people in your network find each other. Recently, someone in my network asked me if I knew anyone who could provide a certain set of services. Turns out I did, and so did she, and although she knew the person I recommended, she didn’t realize they provided the services she needed.
Social Networking venues – events, individual meetings, online conversations
Social networking is an ongoing activity when you make it part of your philosophy. Once you have developed your personal philosophy you can create a social media strategy for your networking activity.
The strategy will help you determine which venues are going to be more productive. For me, relationships are often initiated in the online world; from there, I’ll typically connect with someone on multiple social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, or Google Plus.
On occasion, I’ll connect via an email exchange or a phone call. Ultimately, I like to meet face-to-face whenever this is possible.
Social Networking using Social media for business
Start by establishing goals and objectives that will allow you to evaluate various activities. Chances are you will have way more opportunity than time. Decide which channels are most useful for you. For me, the online world serves as a great mechanism for introductions.
Set reasonable expectations – don’t expect to connect with the masses. See depth by trying to know a few people well rather than focusing on adding numbers. I have tried both approaches, depth is far better.
WIFY? (aka: What’s in it for you?) Remember, don’t focus on your needs; begin with a mindset that part of your success is helping others succeed. Although this may seem counterintuitive, I have found this attitude allows me to recognize far more opportunities and possibilities than spending all my energy trying to protect what I think is mine.
Ask good questions find out what others are all about – I recommend the book Power Questions– this is a great resource.
Listen. Don’t just ask good questions–listen to the answers. Then ask more questions.
Be a connector – introduce others, help others find resources. Constantly look for ways to connect those in your network.
Social networking for business should be an integrated, fulfilling experience. At its best, the experience produces a win-win scenario for all involved.
I would love to hear your thoughts.