I think it would be fair to say that connections, discussions, comments and interactions are the life blood of social media networking. It’s not enough to set up a whole bunch of sites and wait for people to turn up. No matter how beautiful your layout, presentation and content, without reaching out to people and enticing them to come along, no one is going to just 'show up' for your party.
It goes without saying that we need to invite people to join us, read our content, click on our links and make the valued contributions we are hoping for. We need visitors and we need them to stay for a while to absorb our offerings and tell us what they think. It’s not an easy task when we’re starting out, there’s so much for people to choose from and so little time for us to make an impression.
So, how do we get those visitors to find us and take part, how do we get people to engage with what we are doing and what we have on offer? For sure, it’s not going to happen sitting at our PCs and laptops all day long, certainly not in the beginning anyway.
A certain amount of engagement will come from picking up the phone and talking to people but the best resource for establishing a flow of traffic is the hands-on stuff, the face-to-face interactions we have with real people. It means getting out there and doing the ground work at local events, seminars and networking meetings, it means making a regular contribution to what’s happening and showing people what we are made of and what we’re all about.
I was a newcomer to the Midlands just over three years ago and I did a whole lot of networking. From Worcestershire through the Midlands and Birmingham to Coventry, Leicestershire and beyond. It took a long time to build my network and I’d like to share what I learned with you. Particularly when what may seem obvious in terms of what we should do is not generally the norm. My understanding is that by doing the obvious you really can stand out, you can be the one to connect and you can be the one to enjoy your new status as a social networking superstar!
1) Research what's going on in the areas you want to meet people and attract new business. This is not necessarily going to happen on your doorstep so you need to spread your net far and wide.
2) Set up a schedule that fits with your existing and planned work activities. Choose breakfast meetings, evening meetings or drop in lunches and organise other meetings around them, it helps to keep travel costs down.
3) Be selective about larger events that are going to take up a half or whole day and cost you money – make sure they will provide useful learning opportunities, inspirational speakers and good attendance levels.
4) Design a clear and easy to read business card with just your contact information – the idea is to talk about what you do and not rely on the card to explain your business.
5) Sort out where you are going at least the night before, arrive early and be the last to leave – a chance to meet the organisers and offer a free talk at the next meeting which always tends to go down well.
6) Look for people that you feel attracted to, people you feel you might have a natural raporé with – you are more likely to want to keep in touch with them and more likely to build a relationship with them.
7) Concentrate on collecting their business card – ask them what they do and assume the role of ‘contactor’ – assume they won’t have the time or inclination to call you and make it your job to contact them, every time.
8) At the first opportunity after the event, transfer the information you have gathered into your database, phone, mailing lists – this will take time, especially if you have several networks but it will be worth it.
9) Make time for processing your contact information, plan for it and don’t let up - tomorrow will be filled with other essential jobs to do and you will put it to one side thinking ‘what of it’. Remember most people think like this and you want to be the exception, not the norm.
10) Send a personal email to each person you have met together with your various media site invitations – don’t spam the delegate list, it’s just not right and won’t be appreciated.
11) Make sure you do what you’ve said you will do at the event or arrange a one-to-one meeting to get to know each other better over a coffee or make a note to follow up within a certain time scale.
12) Ultimately, divide your contact network into categories so that you can continue the conversation appropriately. Send them relevant information, links to articles of interest or events they might like to attend. To ensure a return on your networking investment, make sure you identify how you can best work together: Do they have a particular skill or valuable service to offer, would their service be of benefit to your contacts or are they going to be a real advocate, referring your business and going the extra mile for you? Adapt your social media content to suit them and they will help you make your online network thrive and grow.
Don't forget, brief meetings with new people will soon go stale and be forgotten if you don’t follow up and follow up again later. One thing I have learned is that very few people actually do this so you can make all the difference, by doing these simple things. You can stand out and your efforts will be appreciated. Realise that the people you meet are more likely to be your next best referrer than your next best customer, so concentrate on being a remarkable networker and let’s connect!
If you have a LinkedIn account connect with me at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/suecartwright (email@example.com) and The Unisey Hub at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/uniseyhub (firstname.lastname@example.org) and join The Unisey Hub Group on LinkedIn where you will find over 100 local members and lots of information about local networking and social media marketing.
If you have a Twitter account follow us @suecartwright @uniseyhub @bestofwalsall
Look forward to seeing you there!
Best of Walsall, 4 June 2010
To find out more about Sue Cartwright at Unisey Ltd click here
Member since: 12th July 2010
My vision is to help everyone experience the remarkable benefits of Social Media, my mission is to actively promote and instil the positive spirit and protocol thatâs built-in and my motto is Live to...