Even though I've been known a networking expert for quite a few years, it took me a while to really get into Social Networking. When I started my business, I discovered Ryze, a site for networking. I used it for a while, but found it was too time consuming. I didn't put in the effort and didn't get to know the program like I should have. I ended up spending about 2 hours per day, and never got any business out of it. Then I joined LinkedIn, created my profile on it, responded to people who asked to be connected but once again, didn't use it in an effective way.
Then came Facebook, and everything changed! So many of my friends who are coaches or consultants where on Facebook. Over 10% of Internet users all over the world use Facebook.
A few months ago, I finally filled out my Facebook profile, 'friended' all the people I knew on the site, and connected with their friends. Navigating on Facebook is pretty much the same as going to a live networking event, and talking to the people you know and the people they know or introduce you to. However, there are many advantages to e-networking over live networking. Compared to a live event, you can view a person's profile even before you connect, so it is much easier to contact people on your field or have the same interest than you or are your target market.
Social networking is one of the fastest growing and most inexpensive ways to reach your target market. You can invite people to visit your website, send them a private message, or mention that you already have friends in common. It is very important that you complete you profile with as much information as possible about your business, so when people come to your page, they will see immediately the benefit of being connecting with you.
At first, It took me about two weeks to really begin to navigate Facebook to contact the people I already knew and to answer to their messages. It was time consuming, but now it is just a question of an hour or two a week to follow up with people, send them messages, contact new people, expand my business, promote events, invite people to seminars, teleclasses, or programs. In essence, it takes only a few hours a week to help your business grow.
Social networking really has changed the way we interact. People are more willing to work with others they can see from a distance or have friends in common with. It comes down to having common interests or goals while also having a set purpose. Social networking definitely changed they way I network. Since I moved to Miami about a year and a half ago, I don't attend many live networking events anymore. With the social websites, I can instantaneously reach a large number of people all over the world; while at a live networking event I would meet mostly local people, and a lot less of them.
Another advantage of online networking is that you won't forget names and faces, you have them right in front of you along with what the person does, what they like and dislike and what their goals are - if you're networking for business. You don't have to worry about losing someone's business card or forgetting what another person does.
The other advantage of social networking beside the fact that everything works faster than with live networking is that it cost a lot less than advertising. Every business owner knows that they need to advertise to promote their business but very often the expenses are misdirected because the advertising is not always targeted to the right people. With Social Networking, each time you send a private email, or put a comment on people's page, you can mention your website or your product, post a video, promote your events, so everybody all over the word can see it and the best part is that it will not cost you a dime. Social networking just cost you our time to do research, promotion and follow-up, so make sure to organize your time wisely in order to be effective without burning yourself and spend over time doing it.
The most efficient way to use online social networking is to dedicate an hour or two a week as part of your marketing plan, to promote your business, and stick to it.
(c) 2008 Biba F. Pédron