More than anyone, I despise spam, unwanted messaging, and relentless commercialism. How, then, do I maintain a robust network of people who continue to like and care for me, as well as a list of referrers who literally feed me by sending me leads, partnership opportunities, writing positions, and paid gigs?
I keep on message, I network, and I make my network work, for me and for others.
I am not a big fan of collecting associates and friends just to collect associates and friends.
I am not a big fan of any method, procedure, service, or product that requires a hard sell to friends and family.
I am not a big fan of tallking shop unless people want to talk shop.
I am a big fan of utilizing my knowledge of a specific individual’s interests, hopes, desires, and dreams, and connecting that individual person up with other people within my network who will be good collaborators.
I am a big fan of specifying what it is that people within my network do and what kinds of people they are so that they match up with other people within my network.
I am a big, big fan of continually learning, finetuning, and expanding my abilities to do the above.
So, as an avid social networker, how does this play out in real time?
Here are five examples of how I’ve used social networking for my business. I encourage you to think about ways social networking will work for you. What works for other people may or may not assist you in fulfilling your own life purpose, so think a little bit first, write out your plan, and then follow through.
Example 1: During the 2004 election season, I connected with a new friend through a grassroots Asian Pacific Islander political group. We attended activist training together, went for lunch in Chinatown, and kept in loose contact through our organizing efforts. I connected again with him on Facebook through the online version of that same political group, and I let him know what I do for a living. Recently, his company needed a web designer. He found me through his network, contacted me through Facebook, and we started and completed a project for him. This was an easy, straightforward, simple, and mutually beneficial social networking connection.
Example 2: My alumni association maintains a career group within Linkedin, and the quality and quantity of questions and answers posted keep me abreast of new developments, trends, and geo-specific information. While none of my postings or connections through that group have resulted in transacted business, my reputation as an answer provider, my ability to learn through other people’s postings, and my sense of camaraderie and community continue to rise through my interactions online with this group. I also grow my network by adding new connections, who then vouch for my credibility and post testimonials to my profile. Linkedin provides classic business networking at its best– I put a link to my Linkedin profile in all my outgoing e-mail signatures.
Example 3: I like Delicious.com because of the ability to save all my bookmarks in one place. Links may be accessed from any computer. I also appreciate the social bookmarking aspect: users may access other people’s knowledge of niche topics through what other people have saved. Because I use delicious to publish to other channels, like a blog, a specifically-tagged page on my corporate site, or my Facebook page, the tool extends my ability to get the message out about my company’s services, blog posts I’ve written, or items I’d like to share to my profile. It’s an excellent broadcasting service.
Example 4: Twitter.com gives me a great sense of other people’s personalities and interests in a micro-blog format. For example, during Podcamp Hawaii, I tuned in to the other presenters’ and participants’ tweets, which gave me background knowledge of what’s going on, what is important to who, and who’s who. Because so much of business is understanding people and communicating with them, this kind of background knowledge gives me a good foundation. Use Twitter as a publication tool for your own business or as a way to keep in touch with others that follow you.
Finally, Example 5: I started a Facebook Fan Page and a group for my online community, which is focused on success-oriented women. Through the group, I’ve found new participants, come up with additional items to discuss, and gained an informal sense of what’s on my compatriot’s minds. I publish content directly to the Fan Page, which makes it easy to disseminate information. Furthermore, each member who joins the group is another potential person to add to my ever-growing personal network.
There are many different opportunities to use social networking tools to make your job easier, increase interactions with others, and effectively assist you in your business. Through online networking, I’ve found definite opportunities for making connections, building alliances, and generating business. I invite you to do the same! You can search for me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/monicaflores.
MORE According to trends, the rise of social networking sites means businesses and professionals will rely even more on these tools to screen their friends and associates, disseminate information, foster the open social web, and build community. I enjoy using my Facebook inmail because it is spam free, while my regular e-mail box is filled with unwanted communications from strangers. Who do you think I will do business with?
EVEN MORE: Yet another example: a good friend of mine from the 2004 Dean campaign, who was active in the 2008 Obama campaign as well, put in a request for web developers through his Facebook e-mail. By responding to him and others on his list, I expand my knowledge of who else in my extended network is interested in what I’m doing. I also am able to connect with a potential client using the powerful “friend of a friend” effect. Since *my friend* can vouch for me and can also vouch for the potential client, there is already a level of trust there.
Marketing dollars to establish a relationship only go so far until actual relationships become more important.
Number of Facebook users: http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-demographic-statistics/?country_id=US&gender=MF
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