|Many professionals are new to this social-networking era, and we are still trying to navigate our way through facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Or, we're trying to figure out how to control our teenagers in the age of technology, where the playground has expanded and the boundary lines are harder to enforce. I am here to say that social networking is not just for teens or young adults – it is here to stay. So, we may as well get used to it and ask ourselves, “What can social networking do for me to help me grow my business?”
Some things social networking can help you with are:
1. Provide you with effective ways to market your business on a low budget
2. Assist you in generating prospects online whether you have a current Web site or not
3. Help drive more traffic to your site
4. Generate referrals and new business while also giving you a means to stay in touch with existing customers and clients
5. Reduce the hours and effort spent searching for prospects
6. Leverage the networking groups you are already attending, such as nawbo-oc.org
I am not suggesting that the good, old-fashioned way of networking live, in person, is not beneficial. What I am suggesting is that you can work smarter – not harder – and keep your sanity. There are only so many places you can be at the same time, and for some of us, the constant networking can start to trigger the question, “ Am I really getting anything out of this or just paying for a lot of breakfasts, lunches and dinners with the only growth being in my waistline?”
If you are like me, you are not interested in tweeting about what you ate for lunch or where you are every minute, nor do you really care to publicize your entire social and business life online. So, this is where we'll start. Here is the golden rule: Do NOT post or write ANYTHING online that you would not want to see on the front page of the Orange County Register or Wall Street Journal with a 5-by-7 photo of you next to it. That simple. Really. Once it is on the Web it is there for any prospective clients, employers, educational institutions, associations, etc., to easily find when they search for information about you. Also, be selective in regard to your online "friends" or "connections." The old saying, “You are who your friends are” holds true, especially in the professional online world.
For starters, or to increase the value of your social-networking efforts, make sure you have the following in place:
1. All your contacts together and entered in your computer
2. Three versions (long, medium, short) of your bio representing who you are and how you help others
3. Current pictures of yourself. (I hate to tell you this, but no one believes you still look like that photo from college or even high-school days. Remember, age brings maturity and experience, and most of these people already know you or will meet you eventually. It would only communicate your lack of confidence and insecurity – two things that have no business sharing space with success.)
Take the trouble to educate yourself on how to make the best use of this very powerful and effective medium. Social networking is here to stay. Seek. Discover. Learn. Conquer! As you focus your efforts and time into social networking, your waistline may shrink as your pocketbook grows.