Social Networks for Professionals
Q: I’m in sales, representing complex solutions to large clients in North America. I keep thinking that I should take advantage of some of the new social networking sites, but I’m not sure where to start…Can you help?
A: I love the world we live in today–with the ability to meet people from all over the globe through the Internet and social networks. I’m a pretty active social networker, mainly because I find it fun and interesting, too. However, I also believe that there are business advantages in actively participating in the right groups.
Key benefits of social networking for business-people:
- Lead generation–you may identify new opportunities that you would have previously been unaware of through active participation in the right social networks.
- Referrals–social networks are a great source of referrals. And, what better introduction to a key prospect than a recommendation?
- Prospect Identification–one of the toughest sales challenges can be simply knowing who to call on within a large organization. The beauty of social networks is that people list their job responsibility and title on their profiles–hence you can pretty easily figure out who within an organization is the person you should be contacting.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of the value of social networking. So, where should you spend your time participating? I think there are three areas to consider.
- The biggie: LinkedIN. It seems as though just about every business-person is part of Linked In. I would definitely take the time to build a profile, search for your friends and colleagues here and maybe even participate in their Q&A forum. I, personally, have reconnected with colleagues from years ago who have subsequently introduced me to new prospects. So, it’s not only fun to catch up with old friends, but you may meet new ones, too. As a side-note–for those of you looking for a job, you should check out the Job section in LinkedIn, and also make sure that you have a few recommendations on your profile to give you immediate credibility if a prospective employee is interested in you.
- Facebook: It’s not just for kids! You’ll be amazed at the number of professional groups–groups with thousands of members. For example, I actively participate in the Facebook group called: What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution. This is a group of direct marketers from around the globe (but mainly here in the States). There’s great discussion. Also, it’s a way of getting word out about your services to a highly targeted group of people. Spend some time surfing around on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some groups that apply to your specific business.
- Specialized/Niche Networks. So many business social networks have sprung up in recent months/years. Be on the look-out for a specialized group that focuses on exactly what you offer. If possible, become very active–help lead the group. Then, as the specialized network grows, you’ll be well-positioned as one of the leaders, hence adding to your reputation and credibility. Specialized networks can be an excellent source of leads and new business, in my opinion.
I hope that this answer helps you with your decision as to whether you should be active in social networks. Choose your networks wisely, contribute actively to your chosen communities, and (maybe most importantly) have fun!