Written by Stuart Crawford, SBSC Community in Alberta

Social media and networking is all the craze in the marketing world today.  Professionals and small business are moving over to social networking and online marketing in droves.  However, many IT Professionals today still do not understand the power of the Internet to market their business nor do they share this power with their client base so that they can become the expert in this field and help their clients.  Not only do they not understand the power of the Internet and what it has to offer to their business they may also be afraid of letting their hair down on the Internet.

The online social networking world is all about building relationships.  Exactly the same way you would create friendships at a kitchen party or at a social event.  Online networking using social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn or Plaxo is exactly the same as going to your local Chamber of Commerce or networking club and meeting new people or reconnecting with those colleagues in your local community.

Online social networking and media follows the same set of guidelines as you would find in any face to face interaction.  You need to be yourself, you need to add value and most importantly you must be authentic.

How do we take our business online and attract new business opportunities using social media services?

The first step is you need to be memorable, you must create that memorable experience so when you follow up with a new contact they instantly remember you.  Just like in a face to face networking event, you have to create that memorable experience.  How are people going to remember you?  What memorable experience are you creating so that they recommend you to their friends and family when they have an opportunity for you?  You must create that memorable experience, you need to be unique and you must try to help everyone in your circle of inspiration, never sell to them.

The next step is exactly that, never sell your services and push your products using social networking tools.  Again, just as in a real life face to face meeting, if you come across as an aggressive sales person, people will run away from you and you will find yourself being awfully lonely.  The same thing happens online, if you post links to your products on Twitter or on your blog, you run the risk of pushing people away from you.  We must educate and only focus on teaching or sharing our knowledge with others.

Talk about current events and the affect that is has in your world.  It is also OK to be a little controversial, controversy will attract readers to your blog.  Current events and the impact that it has on your clients and your industry are also great ways to attract new people to your blogs and websites.  Engage yourself in conversations with others in your industry and offer your insight into their postings.  By combining your own writing and participation in what others are talking about in your local community and industry will attract followers to your sites.

When leveraging social networking it is important to add value.  You do not have to create content all the time on your own.  Leverage existing content that is out there today that your clients, friends and contacts would find value with.  You do not have to create the content yourself.  This is the power of the Internet, there is many sources of content out there, you need to find what content your followers would find interesting.

Leveraging social media is exactly the same as networking face to face, you want to exhibit the same behaviours that you would at your local networking club or Chamber of Commerce.  It is important that you approach the online world this way.  Be helpful, offer assistance and whenever possible follow up.  Follow up just like in a real life meeting is critically important, if you can meet face to face following an online meeting great, if not, leverage tools like instant messengers, email and online communities to take your new relationship to a whole new level.

The number one sin in a marketing is to be boring, the same rules apply when you are marketing online.  You cannot afford to be boring, you need to be exciting, people are attracted to those that are offer fun and exciting things.  If you are looking at attracting new business opportunities online, do things that are fun and will attract potential clients to visit your site, post fun contests on your social networking sites that drive traffic to your website.  The number one rule is to be fun and exciting and make it your number one intention not to be boring.

Online and social media can bring a tremendous amount of value to your business if done correctly.  Remember these basic tips and tricks to help you with your online experience. Leverage the tools available to you and your business today, create those memorable experiences and help out those that are hungry for the value that you can bring to the world.

Stuart R. Crawford
President, You Factor Inc.

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