SOCIAL MEDIA AND NETWORKING
Social media has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. It enables people and businesses to connect to people throughout the world. No longer are we constrained by physical distance but can now truly reach the world. It has now provided us with many alternative ways of creating value and sharing information. The use of the media ranges from providing personal information related to what you are doing or thinking at any given time to those who use it to promote products or services. It is now used as a way to create meetings online and to send messages to people we now have within our networks. Businesses are using social media in creative ways to tell people of products, sales, service and any information they think may attract customers or clients. More ads are being found on social media sites as a way of attracting possible clients.
As one surveys the arena of social media, you will find many sites with many purposes. Each site has particular people who use them more often and others that are more well-known are used most often. However it is important for the user to realize that no matter what you choose to use, it is about setting up a relationship with the people in the network. It is about providing a means of establishing yourself as a person who has something to offer within the selected network. A means for people to know something about who you are as a person as well as a professional in certain arenas.
The question I ask you is what are you doing to establish the know-like-trust relationship within the networks you have chosen to use. Are you inviting people you know into your networks? What information are you sharing that people begin looking forward to your postings? If you are simply using it to post events or discuss your business, then rest assured you will be ignored or deleted from a persons list. If the site you have joined is devoted to business then you have a greater opportunity to share information about your services or products. However you still need to build a relationship with businesses within the site.
You must recognize that this is another form of marketing yourself first and then your business opportunity. It becomes incumbent on you to develop a plan for how you are going to use social media as part of your total marketing plan. It takes time and effort to be able to use social media effectively. As you begin developing your marketing plan remember that this is just another networking event similar to the live events you attend. Visualize yourself as actually meeting these people and sharing relevant information about you.
Many of the principles that are involved in face-to-face networking apply to social media. Here are some that can be reviewed as part of your overall plan:
• Set a time budget each week or month for your networking.
• Pick networking opportunities with people most likely to need what you offer.
• Understand why you’re there – to begin relationships – not to sell.
• Don’t try to select everyone to be in your network.
• Ask people questions or frame you comments that lead people to want to make a comment.
• Don’t sell, use it as a means of forming a long term relationship.
• People love people who are interested in them; show this by the type of information and comments you offer.
• Have fun, relax and enjoy yourself.
• Offer referrals give people a reason to be seeking you.
The most critical part of using social media is that if you do not plan its use it can become a very time-consuming marketing strategy. Step one is to get to know the media you plan to use. Explore the site, see how others are using it, see if it fits for your market, see if it fits your personality style and then sign up if it is something you want to use and becomes part of your market mix.
Once you make a choice to use a particular site, what are your plans on how you are going to use the site? How are you going to go about establishing your relationships? Explore how you meet new people on the site, how you use the site to find the type of businesses or people you want to invite to your network. Remember that you are only one small part of the large network once you invite and are accepted by the first person or business. You now are part of their network as well and your reach has just grown.
Remember this is only a first step or short review of social media networking. There are many consultants and sources available to help you understand more in-depth about social media. Here are some of the social media sites that can be used for your business: MerchantsCircle.com, BizNik.com, Plaxo.com, Linkedin.com, Twitter.com, BetterNetworker.com, Ning.com, Xing.com, and twibes.com
Hope this advice helps you in your endeavors; certainly works for us and most others.
Lonnie G. Juarez, Jr. Ph.D.