Marketing: Social networking - is there really a benefit for business?
21st January 2010
... Comments

I have since become quite a convert and now have 150 or so first level connections, 20+ testimonials and access to thousands more contacts. Yet, each time I invite contacts to join me I am nearly always met with the same response – “It seems like a really good idea, but what do I do now?”

So I am writing a series of short articles on the basics behind LinkedIn and other social media, and each month (starting from January) there will be a simple step for you to build your knowledge and experience. So if you fancy being part of LinkedIn – do join me on the journey.

I thought I’d start by summarising the benefits to business of LinkedIn in particular ...

  • If you are clear about what you are trying to achieve, social media offers you an unrivalled audience. LinkedIn has the benefit of being PURELY for business.
  • If you are planned about your activity – half an hour twice a week for example – it is probably the most time-effective form of networking.
  • Mostly it’s free too, unless you choose to upgrade (I haven’t yet)
  • It’s a great way to showcase your expertise by answering questions; your expertise will build and others in your field will soon identify you as someone to connect to.
  • You can ask questions of your own network or even everyone in the LinkedIn network – you’ll be amazed at how quickly people will give you expert advice/direction for free.
  • You can easily ask for – and give – testimonials that you use in LinkedIn or on your own website; a great way to build credibility.
  • You can build your network by making connections with people your connections know and asking for an introduction.
  • You can target and join networks where you want to gain profile and influence.

In fact, you’d have to ask ‘why wouldn’t you do it?’

I think the answer lies in understanding what LinkedIn is NOT.

It is most definitely NOT a sales platform; you are unlikely to see instant ‘bottom line’ benefits. But would you turn up to a Chamber networking lunch or breakfast meeting and start pressing your business cards on everyone present in an overt sales pitch, without the usual courtesies and checking there was some relevance between what you and they do? “Oh you work for an accountancy company? That’s really interesting as we specialise in accountancy software training – would it be worth swapping cards so that we can make contact with one another after the meeting?” Networking works subtly.

Social networking is no different. If you blindly attempt to make connections and sell your services with all and sundry without checking the basics, you’ll be met with a poor response. But to say, “I note you’re connected to my colleague X and that we seem to have some matching areas of interest in A, B and C– would it be helpful to link up?” is likely to be met with a positive response. Do that enough and suddenly you’ll be connected to a whole range of useful people.

If you are looking for profile raising opportunity to support your other marketing activities and the chance to build your connections base, then LinkedIn is most certainly worth putting some effort into. But, as with so much in life, you really do need to put the appropriate work in by being active two or more times a week. No effort = no results.

About the Author

Vanessa L

Member since: 2nd February 2012

My job is to inspire and empower business owners to fulfil their marketing potential.
I am also Business Growth Advisor for the entrepreneur's circle in Guildford and South Surrey.

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