Business social networking is no longer optional these days. Ready or not, you probably have a presence on at least one or two social networking platforms. It’s fun, free and fanciful. But the question is. Are you getting any tangible results? Well, this article offers five practical suggestions to help you do just that.
1. Mind Your Mindset.
Today, more than ever, it’s all about partnerships. Times are tough and most people see the need to stick together. Remember 6 degrees of separation? It’s proven that we’re often only 6 people away from our desired contacts. And in this social media age, it’s probably 3 or less. If you are still wondering if business social networking is a waste of time, stop. Instead, think about these free and rapidly growing social media platforms as avenues for sharing your ideas and finding people you can collaborate with in order to achieve mutually beneficial results.
2. Open Up.
Now, I’m not one to share what I ate for breakfast on social networking sites, but within reason, openness is a MUST.
When I was a little girl, my mother told me something I never forgot. She said. “When you make friends, be sure to make all types of decent friends. You need posh friends, practical friends, funny friends, serious friends, easy to please friends and fierce friends. Why? Because we need different types of friends for the different situations and seasons in our lives…”
Now, where am I going with this? You see, on social media platforms nowadays, some people spend too much time filtering friend requests. They want certain types of friends only and want to create cliques of some sort. When it comes to business social networking, people who do this are practically shooting themselves on the foot. Open yourself up to connect and you will enjoy far more opportunities. Don’t be too snooty about the connections you make as you never really know who people are, who they know and how they can help you when you least expect it. Variety is the spice of social media networking.
3. Lighten Up.
It’s all too easy to feel disappointed when people don’t ‘engage’ enough. It’s also tempting to worry about having too many connections and to frantically begin to eliminate lurkers from the circle. Not to mention obsessing over privacy settings and the number of likes that photos and articles are getting. But there is a better way…
In my view, whilst abusive connections should not be endured, the best mindset to have when it comes to business social networking is ‘live and let live’. For starters, don’t put anything really ‘private’ up on social networking sites. This takes away a lot of pressure right away. Think about your activity online as akin to updating your company blog or website.
Rather than waiting around for engagement, make more of an effort to get to know the people in your circle and offer to be of service to them. A couple of years ago, I got a private message from someone on a well known social media platform asking if we could meet up for tea since we both lived locally.
I was a little taken aback but went along and we have collaborated on projects ever since. The irony is that up until I received that private message, that valuable connection was a ‘lurker’. Be patient. You never know when ‘lurkers’ will make good. And one more thing? Don’t get too upset if people in your social networks disagree with your views. How boring it would be if we were surrounded only by people who agree with all our comments.
4. Be Old Fashioned.
This may sound contrary to the spirit of business social networking, but it’s difficult to get the best results from social networking if you don’t take the time to connect with contacts in more old fashioned ways. Think about the people in your circle. How many of them have you made time to get to know (website visits, emails, phone calls and personal meetings -if needed- all help)? Is it really more about quantity than quality? Are you building numbers or business relationships?
5. Be Strategic.
Who can you partner with in order to achieve your business goals? Keep your eyes open for people right under your nose. Perhaps they are already in your LinkedIn connections or groups, in your email address book or maybe connected to someone who lives right across the street from you?
Recently, I engaged a couple of speakers for my business events via Twitter and by interacting with fellow members of LinkedIn groups, have attracted both project collaborators and business referrals. Could you schedule a couple of hours per week (preferably at the end of the day’s work) to network the modern way?
In a nutshell, business social networking works. However, like everything else, it’s far easier when you know how.