Social networking online is not all that different from the traditional business networking such as your local Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce, service group or professional networking organizations.
Just like with traditional face-to-face networking, the most successful networkers:
* Show up regularly. People work with and recommend people they know, like and trust. And that happens over time with consistent exposure. Be both professional and authentic, so that you attract people who are truly a good fit with your values and interests.
* Focus on relationships. People can tell very quickly if your interactions are always one-sided, with you trying to sell them something. Show a genuine interest in building a relationship, share helpful resources, and the sales will come naturally when there’s a good match.
* Orchestrate connections. Contribute to the network by helping to match people who can benefit from knowing each other. The good karma will come back to you tenfold if you’re focused on giving instead of taking.
Social networking online has some unique benefits for the small business owner, and is literally your opportunity to connect with a whole world full of potential clients and customers.
Here are three examples:
1. Demonstrating your expertise with your network, by posting or sharing links to your articles about your specialty. You may also have the opportunity to answer questions from others. It’s a very easy way to reach millions of people in a way that’s informative, helpful, and beneficial to people who have a genuine interest in what you do and how they can learn from your experiences.
2. Contributing regularly to the ongoing conversation at social networking sites allows you to build a credible name for yourself and your company and be viewed as a valuable and trustworthy resource. Focus on giving high-quality information and feedback, industry insights and thoughtful questions.
3. Maintaining a presence and profile on social networking sites keeps you top of mind when a need for career services comes along, because you’ve established yourself in that niche within the network. People will automatically feel more comfortable working with you or recommending you if they already have a sense of your credibility via your online reputation – it doesn’t matter if they’ve never met you in person.
If you’re just getting started with social networking, here are a few popular ones you can try: LinkedIn, Ziggs, FaceBook, Ryze, Plaxo, Fast Pitch, and Ecademy. Take care in creating your profiles and be sure to portray a professional image in your photo.
If you’re feeling hesitant about social networking, I can relate – I was, too. What I found was that even though it may take you some time to set up and explore the many different social networking options, once you choose one or two to settle in with and contribute to regularly, the connections and exposure you gain will make it all worthwhile!