Using social media as a powerful networking and marketing tool does not mean that basic business practices don’t count any more. Quite the contrary, any business that wants to carry out effective networking or marketing strategies on any of the new social media platforms, must follow some basic principles first. The first and most basic step is to get to know who your target market is. This will give you the information you need; so that you can discover where to start searching on the various social media platforms to find and connect with your prospects.
Social media has not changed the way we think, or make buying decisions; it has just given us an incredible medium for researching, communicating and connecting with potential clients. We still need to identify which businesses we want to do business with, i.e. prospects that require our products or services and then we need to identify the individuals within those organisations, to connect and build mutually beneficial relationships with.
The business basics have not changed and if you want to enjoy great success with your social media networking and marketing strategy, it is crucial that the basics are in place first.
- Know who your target market is
- What businesses within that market are the most likely to purchase your products and services
- Drill down into those businesses and discover the decision makers within each business. Once you know who these people are, you must use the tools I have described below to research and connect with these people.
As soon as you are connected with the right people on your social media platforms, it is easy to begin forming mutually beneficial relationships with them, by consistently posting valuable information, which is useful to them, commenting on their posts or blogs, sending them birthday cards, send them targeted information about their hobbies, sports interest etc. Your computer guru can help you to pull all the information you need regarding birthdays, hobbies, sporting interests, family etc. This will help you to get as much background info on your prospective clients as possible.
The more you can consistently connect with your prospects and add value from a non-business perspective, the sooner they will get to know, like and trust you. As you know, all buying decisions are made using the emotions, so once you have established real connection with anyone, they will buy from you with confidence.
Action Idea: Set aside an hour each day for the next week. Take your prospect list and research each one of them in turn using Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter and see how much personal information you can discover on each of them. You will astound yourself, with how much background information you can discover using this technology.
I was bidding for a 12 month change management road show with a labour broker and was up against some really stiff competition. My offering was equal to any of the other bidders and as such I had to pull out all the stops to win this one. I researched the individuals that would be making the final decision about who would run the road show. Using Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, I discovered that the CEO was a keen motor cyclist. I discovered this by looking at his pictures on his Facebook page. There was a picture of him standing next to his motor cycle in Cape Town, after completing a trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
I immediately connected with the C.E.O via Facebook and LinkedIn. I commented on the Photos of the ride to Cape Town and sent him some information on similar rides, which were coming up. We started to communicate regarding motor cycles and very quickly made a real connection. I discovered that he did not own his own motorcycle, but that he hired one every time he did a motor cycle tour. I researched various options on motor cycle hire and sent him a few competitive quotes on hiring motor cycles. He was delighted as he was planning another tour and my efforts had saved him a significant amount of money.
I am a keen motorcyclist myself and breaking with my usual tradition, of wearing a suite to every business meeting, I went on my motor cycle, to the meeting with the CEO, dressed in my motorcycle gear. I walked into the meeting, where we spent an hour discussing motor cycles, never mentioned the contract. I walked out of the meeting with the contract. I still do regular business with this company.
Social media can be a really powerful research tool and a wonderful medium to communicate with people, who you want to connect with. It gives a means of discovering a whole lot of non-business related things to assist in building meaningful connection with people. Get anyone to know like and trust you and doing business becomes simple, profitable and sustainable.
Some of the tools, which will help you to research and discover how to connect with the right people on the various social media platforms, are listed below:
- The most obvious place to start is always Google. It is astounding how much information is available via this search platform.
- The searches on Facebook are also really powerful. Facebook is always my second port of call when doing any research.
- Twellow.com is a great tool to find twitter users by means of some carefully selected key words in their bio, category or location. This will allow you to find people who are aligned with the vision of your business.
- LinkedIn is also a great resource. As a free user you can carry out a number of useful searches that will help you to find and connect with the right people. You can upgrade you Linked in account, which will give you access to a number of very useful tools that will help you find the right people to network and connect with.
- Identifying and joining LinkedIn groups is also a great way to identify and connect with the right people.
- Use search.twitter.com to search for conversations that are relevant to your goals. You can then join these conversations. Contribute real value to the conversation and you will appear real and honest. You will become someone who they will want connect with.
Make sure that you have all your social media profiles printed on the back of your business cards. This makes it far easier for people you meet to continue the conversation with you after the event. Ensure that you have an up to date photograph on your business card so that people can easily identify you on the various social media sites.
All these strategies will help you to connect with the right people, regularly communicate with them and ultimately get them to know like and trust you.. This connection will be the catalyst for you to turn your networking and marketing efforts into sustained on-line networking and meaningful connection.
Social Media Helps Communication and Connection
I am sure that you are like me and that you meet really important people all the time, who can help and support you. The challenge we all face is finding and making the time to actually turn these relationships into mutually beneficial long-term connections. We get so wrapped up in our busy lives that we never find time to do what we know is really important. If we want to finally become super achievers, we need to invest time to build connections with all the people who matter. People with whom we can form mutually beneficial relationships with, who will support our vision and help us achieve our goals.
The easiest way to ensure that you actually do the necessary to develop all the important relationships with people, who matter, is to create a daily or weekly routine. After meeting someone either at a networking event or via any other forum, it is crucial to maintain the momentum and to build connection with them as soon as possible. I have time set aside every day to carry out the crucial business of developing and sustaining important connections. During this time that is scheduled into my dairy each Sunday during my weekly planning session I comment on their blogs or posts, send them useful information or arrange a face to face meeting.
Social media offers you a really great opportunity to maintain and develop important relationships. As soon as you return to your office after any networking event, immediately send connection requests to all the people who you want to stay in contact with. Have system in place that reminds you when they accept your request and immediately send them a thank you for connecting.
Continue communicating with these people and discover ways that you can help them with a hobby or challenge they are facing. Keep sending out useful information over your social media platforms, comment on their post, blogs etc. and allow the relationship to percolate and develop. This connection can be the catalyst for you to turn in person networking into sustained online networking and meaningful connection.
I have devised a simple weekly strategy where I plan to do the following each week:
- Meet in person for a drink or lunch with three important contacts. This is planned and scheduled each Friday afternoon.
- Connect with 15 important contacts via the internet. This can be a comment on their blog, a targeted email or via their social media platform.
- I send a gift to one important person. This is not a gift because I feel obliged, it is a carefully thought out gift with meaning. The recipient is always really pleased with the unexpected gift and they will feel more connected with you after receiving it.
Social media has not changed how we think, but it has most certainly changed how we can connect and communicate. The sooner you start using social media in your business, the sooner you will get to share in the abundant fruit that hangs from the social media tree of success.