While face to face networking is still the best way to build relationships, social media has made it possible for even the worst recluse to be social. Even if you can’t get to any networking events at all, you can make use of different social networking sites to build lasting relationships.
Here are five of the top social networking sites and some tips for using them to build your business relationships:
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is still the largest network for professionals, which makes it easier to be a bit more obvious about your networking goals.
- Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Look both for Groups that have colleagues to network with, and for Groups that contain your target customers.
- Share helpful tips and news with that Group that are relevant to the Group’s theme.
- Comment on other people’s posts in the Group. Even just a “like” will make you visible to that person.
- Add media to your profile to increase your visibility (video, slides, etc.)
Twitter – With its constant stream of news, it can be difficult to be visible on Twitter. Here are a few tips for being seen in 140 characters or less:
- Share breaking news about your industry,
- Tweet news about your products and other helpful tips
- Share other people’s news and tweets, and remember to put their Twitter profile name in your tweet so they’ll see it (@username)
YouTube – A picture says a thousand words, but a video tells the whole story. Use YouTube to increase your own visibility in a variety of ways:
- Tell your business story face-to-face, with slides, or even with whiteboard animation.
- Walk through a demonstration of how to use your products.
- Show your back-office and interview some of your employees on camera.
- Share customer success stories from the customer’s mouth
Google+ – Google+ grows more and more each day, with a larger and larger element of business participation. Don’t leave it out of your networking plans.
- Join relevant communities and participate
- Start your own networking community and invite your contacts
- Run regular Hangouts with industry experts
- Hold Hangouts for Q&As with customers
Facebook – Facebook may be mainly for “social” networking, but you can build some powerful business relationships there, especially in their Groups.
- Join relevant Groups and comment daily
- Form your own Group and start a daily topic for conversation
- Give away free reports and tools to your Group members
Other social media sites to check out for networking include Pinterest (especially if you have a business that’s very visual), Tagged and Meetme (which are more social-oriented). With any site, keep your networking goals in mind and make sure you participate on a daily basis to increase your visibility.