Using Social Media to Build ConnectionsAugust 19, 2013 | By Wayne O'Neill
The business leaders we coach hear one thing over and over from me.
“The key to growing your business is connection.”
1. the act or state of connecting.
5. a circle of friends or associates or a member of such a circle.
We push people to authentically connect with companies in multiple ways and on multiple levels – both intellectually and organizationally. It’s not just as simple as sending a Facebook friend request or LinkedIn connection invite. Connecting is about truly understanding the issues and trends in their industry, and attaching how those issues affect all parts of their business; ranging from their customers, to their stakeholders, employees, investors and internal operational teams.
You do NOT want potential clients to feel like this guy:
When you truly understand your client’s issues, you can connect on a much deeper level because you UNDERSTAND. You understand and can attach their issues to the solutions your company provides and/or to solutions your strategic partners provide.
Please, Connect this Back to Social Media…
Yes, yes – we remember. Using social media to build connections was the basis for this blog. And we also promised that this was NOT just about sending LinkedIn requests to the CEOs of your target clients. That would be an impatient and superficial approach to connecting. We are demanding you to dig deeper than that, and build those connections on multiple levels. Social media enables depth by allowing you to:
Obsessively Follow Trends
>>Blogs, News Sites and Twitter
- Identify 5-10 news sites and industry bloggers you should follow to keep up with the trends in your industry AND in your client’s industries.
- Bookmark them, subscribe to them so that you are notified via email when they post a new article. Don’t let an article from them come out and you not know about it!
- Don’t move onto the next section until you are really doing this.
- For example, we obsessively follow these people.
Communicate Your Opinions, LISTEN to What Other People are Saying, Engage in conversations.
>>Blog, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter
- Ask for the ability to post to your company blog. Chances are the blog manager will be thrilled because they are always looking for interesting and thought-provoking content.
- Not allowed to post on the company blog? Then build your own. Buy your own domain name; install a free Tumblr or WordPress blog and start sharing your thoughts and perceptions.
- Oh, and remember those blogs you subscribe to? When you have something interesting to add to the conversation, make a comment at the end of their post.
Join some industry-related LinkedIn Groups. Engage in the discussions.
(By the way, we are assuming that since you’re a professional in the business world, we don’t need to tell you to set up a LinkedIn account. You do have one, right?)
- Set up a Twitter account and post your 140-character opinions. Follow other people you respect and want to get to know. Retweet their content when you think it’s worth sharing. Reply to them when they make an interesting Tweet. Mention them in a Tweet you make when there is a connection between what you’re Tweeting and what they Tweet about.
Think Twitter is just for Pro Football players and celebrities? Think again. Thought leaders of all types are on Twitter. Don’t believe us? Witness an interaction we had recently with the CFO of The Ohio State University:
- When you go to the once per year industry trade show, let people in your social media network know. Follow the etiquette and use the event hash tag in your Tweets and LinkedIn posts. Search for other people using that hash tag. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Ask them to connect and tell them WHY you want to connect.
Do you promise this isn’t just a big time drain?
What are you doing now to build connections? Are you spending time going to industry happy hours, Friday morning networking groups, that big industry trade show once per year and hoping and praying you were talking to the right people?
Kind of risky, and doesn’t really put you in control.
Leveraging social media allows YOU to be in control and manage your time efficiently. You are deciding who to listen to. And they are available 24/7 on the Internet when it is convenient for you.
You are also in control of who you engage with. You can even send requests to multiple people within your industry and at multiple levels of organizations. Great ideas can come from unexpected people and job titles.
Now you can say you are connecting.
- You understand the business issues and trends in both yours and your clients industries.
- You are connecting in multiple ways, both intellectually and organizationally.
- You are prepared for the first time to talk about solutions with your clients.
And when you are finally sitting across the table from your target client, this is what’s running through their head.