Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn aren’t just fantastic sales tools, they’re invaluable for business networking. You can use them to find new employees, seek out experts and connect with industry peers. They’re a great way to build synergy and increase the scope of your business.
Facebook has a host of tools and applications that can help you network for business contacts. Search for groups that are specific to your industry. Join in and engage your fellow members. Invite them to be fans and friends. Interact. Groups are a terrific way to find others in your industry and even uncover and expert or two.
Facebook is also a great tool for human resources. Use it to conduct free, basic background checks on any prospective employee. Use the advertising module or the Marketplace to post an ad for an available job.
Twitter isn’t the end; it’s a means to an end. Think of it as your personal town crier. The idea is to get people somewhere else like your blog or Web site.
You can browse for people by topic or search for them by keyword. Build relationships, follow and be followed. Don’t spam and don’t be trivial in your tweets. Provide content of genuine interest that can be retweeted. Seek out authorities in your industry, follow them and reply to their posts.
Make sure you’re listed in Twellow which is basically a yellow pages for Twitter. You can also use Twellow to search by for people in your industry.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn was built explicitly for business networking. You can use LinkedIn Groups to find people with similar backgrounds or specialties. LinkedIn also has a specific area for job postings where you can, for a fee, post jobs.
The Answers area of LinkedIn is a great way to find experts in your field and to display your knowledge so that others can find you. Use the advanced search to search by keyword and get involved.
Tip: Remember to stay professional. This might sound like a no-brainer, but social media sites have a way of sucking you into the vortex. You need to engage other users, but don’t ever lose sight of the goal. And, remember, everything you share or post is out there for the world to see in perpetuity.
Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, the key to business networking success is involvement. Just like in real life, virtual networking requires effort. Simply putting your profile or page out there isn’t enough. You have to engage. Work that virtual room and your business will grow.
About the Author
Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.