How to Grow Your Business: Online  Social  Networking
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How to Grow Your Business: Online Social Networking

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Introductory presentation given to a local business group about how to grow your business using online social networking to build relationships. Includes ideas on Where and How to network, and time ...

Introductory presentation given to a local business group about how to grow your business using online social networking to build relationships. Includes ideas on Where and How to network, and time saving tools to increase efficiency when networking.

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  • Hi everyone. I’m Julia Dvorin, co-owner and “Duchess of Direction” at Archer Web Solutions, a Marin-based company that helps businesses and non-profits "hit the target" through customized, creative design, development and marketing strategies.   I’m here to talk to you about how online social networking can help you grow your business in any economic climate. Because I only have a small amount of time here, I’m just briefly going to introduce the concept and touch on a few helpful “where” and “how” ideas to get you started. If you are interested in this topic, and want more information, please come see me after the talk or take one of my business cards from the table back there.
  • To begin, let me say that this whole presentation is premised on the assumption that networking--the building and maintaining of relationships--is a critical business activity. And that good networking is all about building and maintaining relationships. Real relationships, ones with value , history and credibility . What I’m here to talk about is not WHETHER you should network, but WHERE, and a little bit of HOW.
  • We all want to do business with people we know, like and trust--so how do we get to know, like and trust people? Well, we can do it face-to-face , like we do in Chamber mixers or business events such as this one.   But I’m here to tell you--I know this won’t come as a surprise to most of you--it’s also possible to use the internet to meet people, get to know them, and eventually come to like and trust them--without ever meeting them face-to-face. Or at least before you meet them face-to-face.   My main point in today’s presentation is to encourage you to consider online networking as an activity that is equally as important and effective as offline networking , and one that can potentially allow you to reach and relate to an even greater number of people.   Note: I’m not saying “online networking is better than offline” or “offline is better than online”. I’m saying that:   1) good networking--of any sort--is based on building and maintaining ongoing, reciprocal relationships based on trust and mutual understanding , and   2) you can build and maintain these kinds of relationships both online and offline.
  • If you aren’t currently building and maintaining relationships online, let me ask you this question (you don’t have to answer it now): WHY NOT?   The most common arguments I hear in answer to this question are:   I don’t know where to start   I don’t know how   I don’t have time   Let’s talk about all three of these objections in turn.
  • First let’s talk WHERE.   Here are a few places you can build relationships online:   Social Network Sites (Facebook, LinkedIn) Definition: Social networks are virtual communities that allow users to connect with others. Some of these venues appeal to broad groups (i.e. Facebook) whereas others are built around particular niches and demographics (i.e. LinkedIn)   Blogs Definition: Blogs (short for web logs) are websites that typically feature posts by an individual or group in reverse chronological order. They can contain text, images, video and links, and readers can comment on posts and on other comments. Blogs vary widely in nature, from personal diaries to commentary or news about a specific topic, and often provide an unvarnished, passionate insider perspective.   Forums Definition: Forums are text-only areas in which multiple users can create topics and then comment on these topics. They are commonly used as resources and gathering places for those interested in a particular topic. For example, parents of autistic children, flyfishers or fans of Battlestar Galactica.   E-mail Discussion Lists/Newsgroups: Definition: Similar to forums but email based. Users can post messages that get emailed to an entire group about a specific topic. Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups also include the ability to post files and rudimentary profiles of members.   Content Communities Definition: Content communities include content sharing sites like Squidoo, YouTube or Flickr; social bookmarking like Digg or Delicious, and online review sites like Amazon or Yelp. Content communities allow users to post and share anything from videos and photos to stories and links. Some of these sites include voting functions that allow the community to determine the relevance of content.   Microblogging (Twitter) Definition: mass text-messaging service. Allows you to use phone or web to send short 140-character updates (Tweets) to a bunch of people at once (your “followers”). Tweets can be private (to a specified group) or public (viewable by everyone).
  • Basically all these places can also be broken down into three separate categories:   COMMUNITY SPACES   YOUR ONLINE SPACE (E.G. YOUR WEB SITE OR BLOG)   SOMEONE ELSE’S ONLINE SPACE (E.G. THEIR WEB SITE OR BLOG)   You can start by interacting--and building relationships--in someone else’s online space (their blog or their forum) or in a community space (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google & Yahoo Groups, Squidoo, Yelp, YouTube).
  •   But in my opinion, online networking is most effective when it is centered on your own credible, professional online presence. Yes, I’m talking about your web site. Think about it: when you are networking face-to-face, your professional dress, demeanor and/or office space provide important non-verbal cues about the type of businessperson you are. When you dress professionally, treat people respectfully, have a welcoming, comfortable office, and above all offer value and/or assistance with people’s needs--people are more inclined to like and trust you, and treat you as a credible professional.
  • What provides these kinds of cues in an online environment? Your web site--and associated online profiles, if you have them. Your web site IS your professional image, and is also a great way to offer added value to your associates (peers, customers, prospects). The great thing about a web site is that it is “always on”--it never sleeps or has to take lunch breaks, like you do!   So you want to make sure your “digital home” is the kind of home you feel comfortable inviting guests over to, and that it’s making the kind of impression you want it to make--at the very least it should be clear, easy to find and navigate, and visually consistent with your business’ key concepts . Luckily, a “digital home” is a lot easier and quicker to build, add on to or remodel than a physical office. Come talk to me afterwards and I’ll give you some good ideas for that!
  • Once you’re happy with your home base, you can start expanding your “digital footprint” and building more and better online relationships. You can: start participating in other blogs and forums, and maybe start blogging yourself. create a Facebook page or a Flickr stream for your business. send out an e-newsletter. share updates, news and links via Twitter.
  • add some reviews of local businesses to Yelp, and encourage your customers to do the same for you. Join industry- or topic-specific groups and participate in discussions on LinkedIn. create a Squidoo lens on a topic that you know a lot about. You can do lots of things, but remember, the point is to not just do these things because they’re “cool” or because everyone is talking about them. (WSJ and Twitter). There are lots of possibilities...which is right for YOU? One of the things we do with our clients at Archer Web Solutions is to advise specifically about what places are best for your business and how to take advantage of them. We will be doing a FREE webinar on August 12 th on how to use blogging, Facebook and LinkedIn for business--please come see me afterwards if you’d like more info on that.
  • Successful online relationship building requires that you meet your customers/clients wherever they are , so if you know where they are, start there. And if you don’t know where they are--find out! The thing to ask yourself first and foremost, is “where are my customers/clients”? You should have a clear understanding of who your target market is, where they “hang out” and how they like to be communicated with.
  • Are your customers: Boomers who like weekly e-newsletters delivered to their inbox? Moms who log onto Facebook after the kids are in bed to chat and share news? 30-something techies who use a feedreader to subscribe to their favorite blogs via RSS? People on the go who use Twitter on their mobile phone to send and check updates on people or organizations they care about? Passionate collectors who want to discuss details and opinions in an online forum? Ok, we’ve talked about WHERE, now let’s talk briefly about HOW.
  • I have 5 tips for HOW to build more and better online relationships:   LISTEN. Especially when you’re new to online networking, the best thing to do at first is to search out conversations and communities that interest you and listen to what they are saying before jumping in.   Don’t be that kamikaze guy at the networking event who jumps in to an existing conversation, toots his own horn, and then moves on to the next guy without ever finding out about you.   We all hate that. Listen first.   PARTICIPATE. After you’ve listened and you have a feel for the discussion or the community, the people and the topics, join in.   Just like standing in the corner at a networking event doesn’t help build relationships, neither does online “lurking”--reading blogs but never commenting, viewing forums but never posting. You have to participate for people to get to know you. Relationships are built on interaction.   GIVE. Your first foray into a new network should never be a pitch. Being of service is the best way to build your reputation and your credibility. If you contribute something helpful--advice, resources, connections, referrals--people will like and respect you more. When you give, you get.   EDUCATE. Educating provides an opportunity to show yourself as an expert in your field. Educating is much more powerful than selling, and when it is done in the best interest of the community, it is welcomed.   BE PROFESSIONAL. Treat others with courtesy and respect, tell the truth, avoid drama.   You know that old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” Those are especially words to live by in the online world. Remember that things have a way of lingering a long, long time on the internet, so don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want printed on the front page of the newspaper or quoted on the evening news.
  • Really what this all boils down to is: be real. Be helpful. Share your knowledge and your passions. If you are real, helpful, and knowledgeable, people will like and trust you. If they like and trust you, they will want to do business with you.
  • So this all sounds great, right? But what I hear many of you muttering in the privacy of your own thoughts is “Sure, Julia, that all sounds good, but I’m busy running my business. I don’t have time to do all this social networking stuff. And doesn’t it involve a whole lot of writing?” And believe me, as an entrepreneur with two businesses and two young children, I hear your pain. But let me put it to you plainly:   Yes, networking takes time, and like anything else, you improve with practice and you get more out of it the more you put into it. Prioritize. You want a return, you have to invest. Be a smart monkey: use tools!
  • There are a whole host of tools you can use to make the process easier by automating the viewing and posting of content. Tools for Smart Monkeys: Subscribe to blogs you want to read with an RSS feedreader--Google has one, Yahoo too. Netnewswire is the one I use. There’s an iPhone version of it too! Use tools like Ping.fm to automatically post the same status update all at once to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Show your latest Tweets on your web page.
  • Tools for smart monkeys (cont): Sort your friends into appropriate lists (e.g. “high school” or “work related”) on Facebook and Twitter, and only look at the ones you want. You can control who sees what content too. Automatically cross-post your blog entries to your page on Facebook. Announce on Twitter or LinkedIn that you’ve posted a new blog entry.
  • Tools for smart monkeys (cont): Re-use a press release or news article as a blog post, or vice versa. Gather popular blog posts and related comments/discussions and share in an e-newsletter. WHEREVER POSSIBLE, SMART MONKEYS REPURPOSE CONTENT
  • Start Networking Now: Marin Business Now has a Facebook page! Continue to build relationships with people you’ve met today, and create new ones. Share photos, videos, and links of interest. Participate in discussions about topics of mutual interest with other local businesses. Stay informed about future events.
  • For more detailed information about how to use blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn, register for our FREE webinar Wednesday, August 12 th , 2:00—3:00 PM Sign up at our table or through our web site: www.archerwebsolutions.com GO FORTH AND NETWORK!

How to Grow Your Business: Online  Social  Networking How to Grow Your Business: Online Social Networking Presentation Transcript

  • How to Grow Your Business: Online Social Networking A Presentation for Marin Business Now By Julia Dvorin, Principal, Archer Web Solutions
  • About Archer Web Solutions
    • Archer Web Solutions is a full service web solutions provider.
    • We integrate capabilities in:
      • design
      • marketing
      • programming
      • hosting
      • Into web solutions that are:
      • powerful
      • integrated
      • cost-effective
      • scalable
  • ASSUMPTION: Networking is a critical business activity.
    • Good networking is based on building (and maintaining) ongoing, reciprocal relationships based on trust and mutual understanding.
    • We all want to do business with people we know, like and trust.
    • The question is not WHETHER you should network and build relationships...
    • The question is WHERE, and HOW?
  • So how do we get to know, like and trust people?
    • OFFLINE (face-to-face)
    • ONLINE (through the internet)
    WHERE AND HOW DO WE BUILD RELATIONSHIPS?
  • If you aren’t currently building and maintaining relationships online: WHY NOT?
    • I don’t know WHERE to start
    • I don’t know HOW
    • I don’t have TIME
    Here’s what I hear in answer to this question:
  • WHERE to build relationships online:
    • Social Network Sites (Facebook, LinkedIn)
    • Blogs
    • Forums
    • E-mail Discussion Lists/Newsgroups
    • Content Communities (YouTube, Flickr, Digg Squidoo, Del.icio.us, Amazon, Yelp)
    • Microblogging (Twitter)
  • WHERE to build relationships online:
    • Community Spaces (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google/Yahoo Groups, Squidoo)
    • Your Online Space (e.g. your web site or blog)
    • Someone Else’s Online Space (e.g. their web site or blog)
    • Online networking is most effective
    • when it is centered on your own credible,
    • professional online presence:
    • your web site
  • Your web site is your “digital home”, and it is available 365/24/7
    • What does your web site say about your business? Ask yourself:
    • Is your “digital home” the kind you feel comfortable inviting guests over to?
    • Is it making the kind of impression you want it to make?
    • Is it clear, easy to navigate, and visually consistent with your key business concepts?
  • I’m happy with my “digital home”. What next?
    • Build more and better online relationships:
    • Start participating in other blogs and forums, and maybe start blogging yourself.
    • Create a Facebook page or a Flickr stream for your business.
    • Send out an e-newsletter.
    • Share updates, news and links via Twitter.
    • But wait, there’s more....
    • Add some reviews of local businesses to Yelp, and encourage your customers to do the same for you.
    • Join industry- or topic-specific groups and participate in discussions on LinkedIn.
    • Create a Squidoo lens on a topic that you know a lot about.
    • There are lots of possibilities...which is right for YOU?
    Build more and better online relationships (cont.):
  • Successful online relationship building requires that you meet your customers wherever they are
    • Questions for you to answer: Who are your customers?
    • Where do they “hang out”?
    • How do they like to be communicated with?
  • Are your customers:
    • Boomers who like weekly e-newsletters delivered to their inboxes?
    • Moms who log onto Facebook after the kids are in bed to chat and share news?
    • 30-something techies who use a feedreader to subscribe to their favorite blogs via RSS?
    • “ Millenials” on the go who use Twitter on their mobile phone to send and check updates on people or organizations they care about?
    • Passionate collectors/hobbyists who want to discuss details and opinions in an online forum?
  • HOW to build more and better online relationships:
    • LISTEN
    • PARTICIPATE
    • GIVE
    • EDUCATE
    • BE PROFESSIONAL
  • THE BOTTOM LINE:
    • Be real.
    • Be helpful.
    • Share your knowledge and your passions.
    • If you are real, helpful, and knowledgeable, people will like and trust you.
    • If they like and trust you, they will want to do business with you.
  • “ But I don’t have tiiiiiiime!”
    • Prioritize. You want a return, you have to invest.
    • Be a smart monkey: use tools!
  • Tools for smart monkeys:
    • Subscribe to blogs you want to read with an RSS feedreader.
    • Use Ping.fm to automatically post the same status update multiple places.
    • Show your latest Tweets on your web page.
  • Tools for smart monkeys (cont.):
    • Sort your friends on Facebook and Twitter into appropriate lists.
    • Automatically cross-post your blog posts to your page on Facebook.
    • Announce on Twitter or LinkedIn that you’ve posted a new blog post.
  • Tools for smart monkeys (cont.):
    • Re-use a press release or news article as a blog post, or vice versa.
    • Gather popular blog posts and related comments/discussions and share in an e-newsletter.
    • WHEREVER POSSIBLE, SMART MONKEYS REPURPOSE CONTENT
  • Start Networking Now:
    • Marin Business Now has a Facebook page!
    • Continue to build relationships with people you’ve met today, and create new ones.
    • Share photos, videos, and links of interest.
    • Participate in discussions about topics of mutual interest with other local businesses.
    • Stay informed about future events.
  • For more detailed information about how to use blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn, register for our FREE webinar
    • Wednesday, August 12 th , 2:00—3:00 PM
    • Sign up at our table or through our web site:
    • www.archerwebsolutions.com
    • GO FORTH AND NETWORK!