Social Networking Tip #1
Make a practice of regularly scanning the status updates of your network (wherever you’re connected to them) in order to keep an eye out for opportunities, expressions of interest or stated needs where you might be able to offer help. I note things like:
Responding to these requests is great way to practice pay-it-forward style networking and is something I see reciprocated more often than I ever expected. I allocate about 10-15 minutes each day to complete this worthwhile task.
Social Networking Tip #2
Don’t wait for folks to initiate a request to be introduced to your other contacts. Review your own contact lists regularly looking for introductions of potential value to your key connections.
One good way is to offer to intro them to potential clients or partners via biznik. Many people use Biznik’s functionality to do this so people can see and learn more about the other party and their business. Some people, however, find it’s easier just to email both parties when they know for certain that it’ll be a welcome introduction and then suggest they make the connection on their own. CAUTION: We all know when it may not be a welcome introduction, and in those cases, be sure to contact people individually to get "instructions from the tower" as to how to proceed.
Social Networking Tip #3
Biznik is a great tool for doing follow up after meeting someone at an event, over coffee or when you’ve exchanged business cards at an in person event. People often send Biznik invites as a follow up or simply to add people to their network. They then use it to keep in touch and up-to-date with what is happening with the person they took some time to get to know.
If you decide to use biznik for this purpose as well, make sure that you are more than occasionally updating your own promotions, or publishing articles and are also checking your network’s promotions, events, links, blogs, announcements, articles or whatever else they have shared there.
Try to interact with others when it’s relevant and sincere, and use it as a way to send support via a comment on their article, a message of congrats on a well-rated article, resources, news or other info you think they might truly find useful.
Social Networking Tip #4
If you can’t find a social networking group that matches your needs, just create one of your own! It’s a fairly easy process and one where most of the work is actually done before you even create the group.
One of the first things you need to do is describe the group’s mission or purpose, your goals for the group, and then consider deciding on a code of conduct as well. As an example, for my Bella Domain Networking group on LinkedIn one of my “rules” is: Be nice or leave. You might also want to include things like what your policy will be if members post things that aren’t relevant to the group, start contacting members with direct solicitations or are just way “off topic” in general.
When you’re ready to create and promote the group get the word out to your list of members and/or connections and then ask them if they’ll help spread the word as well. For a few examples, check out this trade/barter group in Portland:
http://biznik.com/groups/barter-club-portland OR this Biznik group for creative types http://biznik.com/groups/creative-professionals OR this one focused on coworking locations all over the world! http://biznik.com/groups/coworking
Social Networking Tip #5
When I worked on-site in a business and market development role for a client in 2008 I had 2 monitors on my desk. The first had Outlook and a browser open with tabs for Salesforce, Gmail, and whatever else I was focused on or researching at the time. The other monitor had a browser open with tabs to all the social networking sites I’m active on, and this was true all day, every day.
I used these social networking sites to prepare for every conference or cold call I had or made, and just as often I used it to look up someone that had called me. I saved time and acquired knowledge by doing this, and since time is money and knowledge is power, I highly recommend using these sites to research prospective clients, potential vendor partners, company executives or even the people that might be sitting in on your next client pitch meeting.
More often than not, you can get the names of most of these folks in advance because the person that has invited you wants the meeting to be as successful as possible for all parties involved, so they’ll usually send that info along if you ask for it. Sometimes, if the person setting the meeting or call is truly invested in you or your company’s solution, they will just offer this info up in advance, but other times they wait for YOU to ASK, and if you don’t, it will become a little black mark next to your name or the company you represent. Seriously.
Clearly, doing this type of research (homework!) gives you an edge and enables you to find common ground with an individual or even potential areas of similar interest or future collaborations. And, yes, I even research new Twitter followers (@sandyjk)!
Hope these tips prove helpful and watch for 5 more Social Networking tips coming soon!