Call it an epiphany, a moment of clarity, a stroke of brilliance, or just dumb luck. One afternoon I responded to an inquiry via LinkedIn on my thoughts on social media as a business-to-business tool. It was later published in the Pittsburgh Business Times, and it has since become my mantra. Here was my response:
1. Social Media is SOCIAL. It is an extension of your professional network. It is another opportunity to interact with clients and prospects. Keep in mind you must be PRESENT in order to be social, PARTICIPATE.
2. Content is king. Provide content that your contacts will value that ties directly to your business offering… but do not SELL. Ongoing, fresh content gives your audience a reason to interact.
3. Don’t sign up for everything. Determine what your objectives are and focus on platforms that support those objectives. Go where your customers are. If your customers aren’t social (yet) create an opportunity for them to be social and invite them to participate.
4. Complete your profile. And this includes a photo for your avatar. Most social platforms now distinguish between business pages and personal pages. All personal pages should have a photo, save the logo for the business pages. It doesn’t have to be a stuffy head shot, it can be cropped from your favorite vacation photo. Your picture allows people to know they are connecting with the right person. It builds trust.
5. Listen and share. Participating in social media is being open to other people’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It is a conversation. In order to have a conversation you must listen to what others have to say.
6. Keywords are critical. Always think in terms of the keywords associated with your business and you as a personal brand. If you do this it will help you focus your efforts in the right areas.
Lastly, remember that social media is just another tool. It is not meant to replace face-to-face interactions, direct marketing or selling, or other business development activities. It is not a silver bullet and most of all it is NOT free.
This is just the latest in a series of posts relating to the use of social media in your professional world. To read the previous post in AIA Pittsburgh’s social media series, click here.