There’s been a lot of discussion about “business networking” versus “personal networking” in social media for quite some time. This is something that a lot of people feel strongly about - particularly where a community has developed with one ethos and then someone joins and starts communicating with quite different intentions.
So how do you know where to draw the line? When does your networking stop being social, and start being a sales pitch? Is it really that clear-cut? Does it need to be? What's best for your business?
In Dan Schawbel’s latest book he explores the idea of personal branding and explains how businesses can truly succeed when they realise the importance of using social media to market their business. Sometimes, as simple a change as using a real person in a profile picture (rather than the brand's logo) or using a real name (rather than a business name) can make all the difference to the response you will get online. As social media is increasingly being used by businesses, the need for real connections and a ‘human touch’ is meaning that ignoring the social element of social networking is hurting companies’ online presence.
Schawbel’s take on personal branding is quite simple really: if you give people a reason to be interested, show a bit of personality and engage in a real, genuine relationship online, people will tend to meet you half way – and business opportunities will start to come to you.
Penny Power who founded online business network Ecademy.com well over 10 years ago reinforces Schawbel's recommendations in her many interviews on yourBusinessChannel. In the interview below, Power urges that you need to be a "magnet" within the community, and that making your intentions clear will be critical to your success.
Putting more time into asking questions and attracting like-minded contacts will mean that the connections you make will be truly valuable further down the track. Companies who encourage their employees to build online networks intelligently can see some radical improvements to the opportunities which come their way.
To read a more about Schawbel’s latest book, take a look at an interview with David Meerman Scott here.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on some of the groups of marketing professionals on global social networks over the last few days, you might have heard mention of a World Wide Rave. It describes something you’ve probably experienced, although you may not realise it. It’s also something that you should find out more about if you’re responsible for marketing for your business.
Online marketing expert and bestselling author, David Meerman Scott, is in the process of launching his new book. I suppose by now you can guess what it’s called?
World Wide Rave is all about the way in which people can start and spread a World Wide Rave about their business or cause by getting other people excited about telling stories.
Like his other books, World Wide Rave is likely to be an international best seller pretty swiftly. A quick Google search will uncover that he’s the author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and that has done very well on the business/marketing book lists, as well as being translated into over 20 languages.
Anyway, to mark the launch of the World Wide Rave, David has produced a video which itself, documents a World Wide Rave that he created. And the video itself may even become a World Wide Rave. I’ve pasted the video below, so that you can check it out.
You can check out David’s blog post about the video here. The blog also includes a free eBook which explains more about the making of the video. Are you starting to get the drift of a World Wide Rave yet?
I should disclose that I and many of my colleagues are on the team of people involved in making the video - but there were also hundreds of people involved as you will see when you watch the video. We’re proud to have been involved, and we are certainly looking forward to watching the process of both the book and the video over time. But regardless of our involvement, this is a very interesting aspect of the huge connectivity that we can all get access to online, particularly when we find a clever way to get other people to tell stories about us!
Food for thought...
P.S. David has really thought this through. Here's a little badge to prove our involvement!
To the business social networking virgin, Twitter can seem more than a bit baffling. People you have never heard of appear on the screen and sooner than you can decide which cheesy profile picture to upload, they are updating you every five minutes on their tea consumption and toilet usage.
However, there is more to this Twittering malarkey than meets the eye.
As Mark Sinclair of yourBusinessChannel explained to the BHP team in an insightful training session two weeks ago, Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool for small firms such as ours. Select carefully who you will follow, and you will soon have a strong network of contacts with whom to exchange valuable information, professional or personal, and in doing so communicate your business’ message.
People are naturally interested in the human side of a business, especially where small businesses are concerned – and Twitter allows you to introduce yourself as a person first and foremost, and as a business person second. In a nutshell, Twitterland is a networking event without the awkwardness of deciding how to balance your canapé while shaking someone’s hand. And if someone is boring you half to death, you just stop following their updates – no stilted excuses necessary.
You can respond to other people’s ‘Tweets’ (to the Facebook user, this is the equivalent of a status update; to non-Facebook users, this is a short comment about what the person is doing or thinking at a certain time) simply by writing your own Tweet and placing an @ sign in front of their name before your comment. It takes patience to build this kind of relationship, but then isn’t that true of any relationship?
In Stephen Fry’s words, Twitter can be used to benefit from the ‘collective wisdom and insight’ of ‘fascinatingly good people’, although it can also be the sounding-board for many a banal observation. Fry told the BBC how he gained advice within seconds on how to deal with an unruly bat he found flying around his house, simply by adding the question as a Tweet on his Twitter profile.
So, persevere. Who knows when you might need a fellow Twitterer’s advice on something extraordinary, or when they might need yours?