Social media. To some, it’s a dumpster fire of all the feels, bad behavior, fake news, conspiracy theories, kooks and creeps on the internet. To others, it’s where many people build their business profiles and nurture their social networking and customer service channels. Of course there is the casual user who spends an inordinate amount of time with quizzes, games, memes, and birthday wishes, but for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the business side of things.
What is Networking?
Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Networking often begins with a single point of common ground.Julia Kagan – Investopia
Let’s unpack Julia’s definition.
- An exchange of information and ideas
- People with a common profession or special interest
- Often a single point of common ground
There are many people who believe sharing information and ideas is likened to giving away trade secrets. In most cases, this might be attributed to a person’s paranoia. Now consider how many similarities there are in launching or maintaining a business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom & pop shop or a Fortune 500 enterprise; for a business to thrive it needs to engage with people. An exchange of information and ideas doesn’t mean giving away the blueprints of an invention or the secret ingredient to your million dollar marinade.
Sharing ideas might include tips on reaching the broadest audience, what apps work or don’t work for growth strategy or customer service, advice from a mentor. I’ve been in writing circles where we all pitched our books and shared where we struggled. The free-flow of ideas often helped push the story forward. Like business, the exchange of thought and concepts can help a struggling business pivot, and a successful business grow.
Finding people within a common profession or special interest is an important key to success. These people are going to be your ambassadors, advocates, and consumers. Additionally, they may be the connection you need to reach a larger audience or warm introduction to someone who might invest in you. Seven degrees of separation between you and Kevin Bacon is no joke.
Naturally, the points of common ground should be a given for networking but there are plenty of times when potential investors or clients don’t know that they need your business or service in their life. That’s where your social media networking channels come into play.
Top 5 Reasons to Grow Your Social Media Networking Channels
People Connect with People
I say this over and over again, especially with business owners and freelancers: People connect with people – not businesses or brands. The social media channels that you incorporate into your business outreach needs to connect with your audience in some way. Engagement is everything.
Piggybacking on engagement, your social media channels have the potential to network and communicate directly with your clients. I remember being at my wit’s end with a company and made a public complaint on my social media, tagging them of course. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when one of their customer service representatives replied to help resolve the situation. I went from a disgruntled customer to a brand loyalist because of it.
Keeping active on the social media networks helps build up a reputation for engagement, presence, and influence. Smart people do a passing social media investigation before they spend their hard-earned money on an unknown entity. The age of one’s account, level of engagement, and how many followers you have does get noticed.
As you engage with your social media network, take strategic opportunities to direct people to your website or web store. No one likes a hard seller: BUY BUY BUY! Bring value to your followers by giving them bites of insight then direct them to your site for more information.
One thing I’ve learned, since the early days of the internet, is that brand recognition is critical to growing your business. As a longtime freelancer, I’ve gotten into the habit of signing up with as many social media platforms as I can find. Why? Because I don’t want someone squatting on my username then try to sell it back to me later. As you grow your social or business influence, people will try to get a free ride from your work. Don’t let them.
Just to clarify, because I don’t want any misunderstandings; I mentioned signing up to many social media platforms because my username is part of my branding. I am very possessive and have attached years of content to it. When people do a search, they find me. This doesn’t mean I’m active on all platforms. That would simply be impossible to maintain and get work done unless I had an army of assistants.
I limit activity to where the bulk of my potential clients interact. Naturally, there are a few people who follow me across multiple networks, but they often have their favorite platform so I’m grateful when they share or reTweet my content – and I do the same for them.
Your Twitter followers might not be your Facebook followers, who might not be your LinkedIn or Instagram followers.
You have a limited amount of time every day to get things done. Focus on where your target audience is, build your presence and brand, and become an authoritative voice in what you’re selling.
Got questions or comments? Leave them below or connect online with me. I’d love to hear from you.
Featured image source: Pixabay