Social networking sites offer businesses networking and marketing opportunities, all at no cost. However, if you don’t know how to make your social networking site work for you, you might end up losing business instead of gaining it. Here’s how to put your best foot forward in the cyber world.
Of the many social media Web sites, it is important to select just two or three to focus on that will help you achieve your business development goals. These goals might include sales, marketing, and even branding. Marketing 101 would suggest that you have a clear plan and definition of your objectives, strategies, and tactics, allowing you to head in the right direction.
Once you’ve made your selections, focus on the core competencies of each site. For example, if you choose LinkedIn, consider its various applications for your business. Whether you are looking to create inside connections, find new strategic partners, or build your brand, it is important to become familiar with the site and understand its full potential. If you are interested in branding yourself as an expert in your field, check out the various LinkedIn groups that surround your industry.
Becoming an industry leader and a well-known entity online is one of the newest and fastest ways to become famous. Eagerly answer questions and begin discussions that will allow people to experience your expertise. Used on Twitter, this strategy has made some users known as foremost experts in their fields. In less than a year, they are aggressively sought after for their expertise.
Social media shortcut sites such as Tweetdeck and Ping.fm help save you time by allowing you to send out messages simultaneously from one site. Ping.fm actually includes Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all in one, which is really useful for heavy users to ping all three media in one shot. One benefit of Tweetdeck is that it lays out all of your activity into workable columns. You can easily view and manipulate the messages you’ve sent, mentions you’ve received, searches you’re conducting, and much more.
When using Twitter, one of the most effective ways to find new clients or opportunities is the Search feature. If you are selling a product and want to know if other people are tweeting about it, or you want to check out your competition, just type in the phrase or keywords that someone might use when searching for your business and then keep track of the search. For example, if you are selling a customer relations management product called ACT, just type in the keywords “ACT or ACT CRM.” You can also type in a phrase that relates to your search such as “What is the best CRM out there?” Once you get a hit, you have the ability to begin a dialogue with the other party.
For salespeople the most powerful tool for new business today is LinkedIn. Most sales professionals would agree that the best and easiest way to develop new business is through quality introductions. The process of obtaining referrals hasn’t changed in 100 years, until now. Asking an existing client, friend, or associate to refer you can be daunting, but LinkedIn makes it simple and easy to request a referral from someone with whom you are connected.
The beauty of LinkedIn lies in your ability to develop a virtual universe and to reach out to thousands of people through that universe. First develop your profile 100 percent and include a picture. Then connect with others based on what you want to accomplish and how you are going to use the site.
Some users only want to include people they know, like, and trust. This allows for the best-quality introductions. Others may want to include everyone they can, to have the deepest penetration into the marketplace, to get names and contact information.
One underutilized opportunity in Linked In is the Advanced Search feature in the top right-hand corner of the site that permits you to filter and find the company, vertical, or geographic area you want to sell to. The search results will pull up the names of the contacts you are looking for and the possible connections that you have to the contact. If the connector is strong enough, you should have the ability to speak with your connection and see if he or she would make a quality introduction to the contacts you’ve found.
The world of social media is changing every day and new features are added constantly. It is an incredibly exciting time for sales and marketing people to take advantage and reap the rewards of working these media. However you make use of these new tools, stay focused on those that make the most sense for you. By tracking and evaluating what’s working and what’s not, you will always come out better in the end.
Steve Fretzin is the founder and president of Sales Results Inc., a top-flight national sales training institution established in 2005. He also is founder and partner of the Executives Profit and founder and managing partner of Team Discovery and Networking Monkey.