Developing social networking expertise

 

It’s important to understand the objectives of Social Networking:

1.   To build a strong and recognisable personal brand

2.   To build a strong and recognisable product/service brand

3.   To build a strong network of advocates who like, trust and respect you and your business offerings

4.   To become more “findable” for people who are seeking your products/services

5.   For your current and future advocates to be comfortable recommending you

6.   To meet new and interesting people and build your network

 

 

Why is a strong Reputation in the Marketplace important in today’s world.....?

Reason 1 - If your competitors aren’t already doing it, they soon will be!  If you get there first, then you're harder to beat.....

Reason 2 - People you are meeting may Google you beforehand - these could be clients, prospective employers, prospects, etc.  What they find when they do makes a big difference to how you will be preceived - Testimonials are especially powerful!

Reason 3 - There’s no good reason why not – it’s EASY!  Well, actually, it's simple, but it does require sustained effort!

Building true expertise obviously takes time, effort and commitment but expertise is just knowledge accrued over time.  In the meantime, a good level of competency can be achieved in a matter of just days or weeks, with relatively little time and effort spent and great results to show for it, if you do it right.

The secret is in mixing a number of activities in a planned campaign that plays to your personal strengths....... A bit of art and a bit of science:

 

On-line social networking

A huge number of Social Networking Sites have sprouted in the last few years and many more will no doubt jump on the bandwagon in the future..... it’s important to get involved with the bigger names and use them in a way that plays to the strengths of you and your products/services.  A future article will address this in more detail, but some to look at are:

Ecademy (www.ecademy.com) – it can be a bit daunting at first, but worth persevering!  It allows you to connect with people and interact 1-2-1 and in groups, you can also get involved in discussions and create a much more 3-dimensional virtual persona than many other sites allow.

LinkedIn (www.Linkedin.com) – a great way to connect with friends and colleagues and to build a network of people who are committed networkers in your domain(s).  Use the toolbar to find all your current and past contacts - very powerful!

Xing (www.xing.com) – similar to Ecademy.  Some people prefer it, others find it less functional and user friendly – decide for yourself!  The toolbar is excellent, but adding a large number of contacts in one go is sheer torture - if you're well connected already, this could be a very lengthy process.

Business Scene (www.business-scene.com) - a fast-growing and highly functional network based on the principles of local networks.  If your local market is important to you, then this is an especially powerful way to promote yourself, but it doesn’t matter if you’re national or even international!

One of the key benefits of online networks is that the active ones are very attractive to Search Engines, like Google, and you are likely to achieve a higher ranking in the searches than you would otherwise – so make sure that your content is something you’re proud of, because you don’t want your clients finding you for the wrong type of stuff!!

If you’re an introvert, then on-line networking will be especially attractive, as you can build a degree of trust and familiarity with people before you meet them and it makes it a lot less daunting if you go to a face-to-face event and meet people you already know – just be aware that their photo may be “flattering” compared to the persons actual appearance........ It's worth getting some up to date photos, so you look like the person they saw in the photo - unless you're a very attractive woman, in which case use the least flattering one you can find to avoid unwanted attentions!

 

 

Networking events

The objective of some face-to-face networks is to put people in a room specifically to sell to each-other, but you can also build an effective network of advocates through these groups.  Organisations who do this include NRG (www.nrg-networks.com), BRE (www.brenet.co.uk) and BNI (www.bni-europe.com).  Some people get on with this approach, others don’t....... the best way to find out is to go to an event.  Some of the online social networks, like Ecademy also organise events, where you can meet the people face-to-face that you have previously interacted with on-line.

It's worth remembering that people who just pitch in with a sales spiel tend to be avoided, whereas people who take time to get to know each-other build stronger bonds much more quickly.

 

 

Building your reputation in the marketplace

The key objectives are two-fold:

1.) To create a powerful network of advocates who know, like, trust and respect you and what you do.  People prepared to recommend you to others for your expertise or products.

2.) To demonstrate your expertise through valuable content and advice in a way that means people you know will happily refer you and people who don’t know you can find you more easily.

It’s important that you actively build on both fronts – recruiting new people to your network on the one hand, whilst also building up your content and reputation on-line....... this blog is precisely that – I’m a Social Networking specialist, so this blog is about my expertise in this area.  It’s hardly rocket science, is it?

In summary, if you combine high quality online content and interaction with, actively building your network and then having face-to-face meetings with people , then you’re on the first steps of the ladder towards effective Social Networking – with practise will come expertise and some more advanced techniques will be explored in future blogs in this series.