In part one of my series on social media skills, I looked at how to get started. In part two, we’re going to examine the four big questions you need to answer.
- Who are you going to connect with?
- Where are they to be found online?
- Why do you want to connect with them?
- Why would other people want to connect with you?
Who are you going to connect with?Prospects
Look for people with common interests to your target market and start interacting online in those circles - for example:
- People who follow your competitors.
- Relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and Facebook pages – for example people interested in road transport logistics and haulage may be in groups discussing fuel prices.
- People who use complementary products and services – for example, someone who is a buyer for office stationery may be looking for an office cleaner, or someone who rents out water coolers.
- Followers of people you already do business with.
"By slowly, and respectfully forming relationships online with potential business partners, there is a better chance it will bring you new business." - Customers
- Use your e-mail address book and look for connections. Some websites let you upload your email address book and look for matches automatically, then you choose the ones you want to send invites too. Some people feel uncomfortable doing this – it’s not a big deal if you want to avoid using this technique. It’s up to you.
- Look for partner companies that you do business with and connect with the members of staff you know there.
Potential joint venture partnersWhy not look for people you who can connect with that offer complementary services? For example, a party food caterer might want to connect with a DJ or someone who hires out bouncy castles, or entertainers, or look-a-likes.
If one of these connections gets an order and their client is looking for a complementary service just like yours – who knows, you might just get some referral business from that if you have impressed your social media connection and earned their trust.
By slowly, and respectfully forming relationships online with potential business partners, there is a better chance it will bring you new business. One of the great things about social media is you can search through detailed profile information looking for a good match. This strategy is significantly more targeted than investing £20 and 2 hours of your time on a local business breakfast networking event, hoping someone you need to network with to build your business is actually attending that day.
You need a good “why” for connecting with these peopleHave a look at these groups of people and work out why you want to connect with them from a commercial perspective. What business benefit do you want to achieve?
- Generate more sales and leads?
- Boost brand awareness?
- Boost brand loyalty?
- Develop connections that will help you grow your business?
Work out why they want to connect with youAlso consider why these people might want to connect with you. You need to share something they value to sustain the relationship in the long run. Try to second-guess what they may want from you:
- Saving money with special offers only available to social media friends.
- Reducing risk by building a network of trusted suppliers and business partners.
- Trust that you are an ethical company with values they appreciate, and demonstrate your corporate responsibility.
- Save them some time by demonstrating why you are a better choice over your competitors, because there is social proof clearly available on your profiles from other people saying you're good at what you do.
Where will you find more people and grow your following?Once you’ve developed some connections, have a look at them and also who they are connected to - this is a great way of getting good quality connections – you’ll probably find you know quite a few of these second-degree connections.
Once you’ve done that, each social media channel has a dedicated search where you may find other useful connections. Do some research and search for the types of people you want to connect with and see where they tend to congregate. Try to determine which parts of the sites will have the richest seams to mine and start researching those in earnest.
Work through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Then start growing your following on the site that you think has the most potential contacts. When you’re happy with your profiles, add them to you website and email signature to help spread the word. Add your social media details to your business cards too. I use my smartphone to connect with people I meet at business events and send over a request when I am with them in the room.
In the next lesson, we’re going to look at how to find your voice and start interacting with the people you’ve found.