As most of you know, social media is one of my favorite marketing subjects, and if you have been a reader here for any amount of time (or have not been hiding under a bush) you have heard of social networking sites like, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and a host of other sites. Social media has been accepted as not only a great way to connect with friends but as a very effective business networking platform and community.
While Facebook and Twitter are favorite microblogging sites that can generate significant traffic to your site, I believe the less popular site called LinkedIn is the way to build a professional business network. It’s a social networking site that is designed and focuses on business-minded individuals who don’t want to be bothered with all the frills and apps that come with other networking sites.
Think about it, can you picture a CEO or top executive sitting down to touch bases with their business contacts on Facebook? LinkedIn may be a smaller site, but when it comes to your business contacts and clients, quality is far more important than quantity. Plus, if people are talking to you through LinkedIn, they’re more likely to think you’re a quality contact to add to their community too.
Chris Brogan, who is a Social Media pro and not shy about his views, recently posted an article on his blog on “Friending and Reputaton” which discussed whether it was appropriate to ask someone you barely know for a recommendation on LinkedIn. Most of his readers (including yours truly) agreed that it is not a good idea to put your name on the line that way, especially on LinkedIn because of the more professional atmosphere and the longevity of your referral. Chris had this to say:
I’m a promiscuous connector. I invite people to connect with me on LinkedIn via Twitter all the time. The reason is this: I don’t consider friending (the act of adding a connection to you on a social network) the same as endorsement…On services like LinkedIn, I will connect with anyone, but I will only write recommendations for people whose professional work I can vouch for myself in some capacity. To me, this is a matter of how much of my reputation I’m willing to extend to the other person.
Chris’s viewpoint on LinkedIn is a little more liberal than my own. I look at Twitter or Facebook as ways to flaunt my promiscuity. (Somehow that just doesn’t sound as kosher coming from me, but I’m leaving it because I like it!) I use Twitter to communicate to a larger community, promote my blog, and build relationships with short bursts of conversation. It’s perfect for on the fly updates.
I treat LinkedIn as my business contact community…or my management/executive Rolodex. LinkedIn allows me to get into your network and your network’s network to find people who I want to network my way into. It’s a beautiful thing. Now once I wiggle into that network the important thing is to nuture the relationship. Don’t ask for the connection then never go back and communicate.
As with any social network, your success rests on several factors:
- How engaged you are with your network
- How engaging YOU are
- What value you offer – Put yourself in their shoes and ask “What’s in it for me?”
Communication skills should flow right from the beginning with your LinkedIn Invitations you will be sending out. Don’t just use the canned invitation without adding your personal touch. Try something like, “Hey, I met you at the such-&-such event (use your experience) and I’d love to talk more. Let’s connect on Linked In”. Put the relationship into context…remind them who you are and what you may have in common. (there’s that promiscuity again.)
When you are communicating with your network, you need to be authentic and genuine. Nobody wants to hear a PR pitch or something that looks like HR cleaned it up for you. We want the real person. It’s not just, “What’s your business? What’s your product? What’s your service?” It’s more of a one-on-one personal relationship.
No one wants a billboard screaming at them…they want business casual & they want you to understand their needs. Remember that listening is the most important factor in communication. (Women have been trying to pound that into their mates heads for years!) This is a great video that Microsoft put out that puts the Advertiser / Consumer relationship into perspective. It only takes a couple minutes to watch and really shows how the days of reaching consumers & clients has changed.
Do you differentiate between social networks? How can you see LinkedIn working in your marketing plan? What area of social media and social networking would you like to know more about? Share your comments and thoughts below.
To Your Success,
Bonus tip for your LinkedIn profile ~~> When you sign up on LinkedIn, use a name based on your own name and be SURE to use keywords that pertain to your business. That way, if someone searches that term, your page will come up.
August 21, 2009 3 Comments