Don't get bogged down with the technology of social media - focus on relationships

I talk to business people every day that are intrigued, confused and overwhelmed by social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn and their ilk.

To them, I say "Don't sweat the small stuff."

The real key is not the social media tools, or the technologies, it is the social networking behaviors that smart business people have been engaging in since Grog started his stone wheel dealership and offered to arrange financing.

Nevertheless, time-challenged business people can hardly be blamed for viewing social networking as involving a lot of time in front of a computer. Is this time really worth it?

First, let me repeat: Don't get bogged down with the technology of social media.

You can set up a blog, a Twitter account, upload a video to YouTube, start a Facebook page, or download Tweetdeck to your computer in about the time it takes to microwave a frozen dinner.

Here's a tip to help make getting started on social media easier: Go to YouTube and you can find tutorials on ANY topic. Want to learn how to set up a blog? There's a video for that. Want to upload a video? There are videos for that too.

YouTube can teach you almost anything you want to learn.

But I can hear you asking, "Okay I'm on Twitter (or Facebook, or LinkedIn, etc.), now what?"

Social media platforms are merely tools, but the real emphasis should be on Social Networking.

Social Networking refers to human behaviors. These are the same behaviors smart business people have been engaging in for generations. Things like:
  • Making business contacts,
  • Turning these contacts into relationships (or even friendships),
  • Focusing on building trust and credibility instead of jumping in and hawking your services,
  • Listening (REALLY listening) to clients and potential clients,
  • Building a brand by educating and informing people (regardless of whether they are potential customers or not),
  • Helping people solve problems or achieve their goals,
  • Getting noticed by potential clients before competitors even know an opportunity exists,
  • Enlisting "evangelists" who will tell your story via word of mouth communication.

Let me put this another way: Suppose you had an opportunity to meet with a group of your ideal potential clients for lunch every day. Would you consider it time well spent if all you did during these lunches meetings was listen, educate, help them solve their problems or achieve their objectives - but was never able to pitch your own products or services?

I'm guessing a lot of you would say "yes," this would be time very well spent.

And that is why social networking is so valuable. Social networking is simply a virtual version of this daily business lunch with your ideal prospective clients.

So, repeating myself once again, don't get bogged down with the technology of social media. Learn the basics and then focus on building relationships.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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September 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM Peggy McKee said...

Great advice! Social media is so critical to your networking and business success, you have to just do it. LinkedIn is one of my favorites to be involved in. I offer a few tips to shine up your LinkedIn profile here: