Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

LinkedIn Helps You Pay It Forward to Nonprofits

April 17th, 2013

By Wayne Breitbarth, CEO of Power Formula and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search

You’ve polished your LinkedIn profile, developed a large network of valuable contacts, and joined the most advantageous LinkedIn groups. From a professional standpoint, you should now be reaping the benefits—growing your client/customer base, seeing increased activity on your website, and becoming a thought leader in your industry.

You obviously did not get to this point alone. Friends and business associates have written recommendations for you, used the introduction function to introduce you to key members of the business community, and shared your status updates with their networks. Along the way, you have undoubtedly assisted your connections as well, but now it is time to pay it forward in another way—by helping your favorite nonprofit organization.

Here are six ways you can use LinkedIn to benefit your favorite charitable group:

  1. Include information about the organization in your LinkedIn individual profile. In the Experience section, list as a current job your title and/or involvement, along with the name of the organization. You then have 2,000 characters to explain the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and needs. Once you do this, the organization will appear in the top box of your profile. You can list three websites on your profile. Use one of the three websites for a hyperlink directly to the organization’s website. In the Summary section, consider having a special section to describe why this organization is important to you. Include in the Specialties section the name of the organization or other keywords that describe the group. You can then be found more easily if someone searches for people involved in your specific group or other groups with a similar mission or purpose. Use SlideShare or Google Presentation to share a PowerPoint or video about the organization. Use Blog Link or WordPress applications to connect the organization’s blog to your profile. Finally, list the name of the organization in the Groups & Associations section.
  2. Use the Status Update Box on your home page or Discussions/News in groups you belong to. Here you can publicize an event, recruit volunteers, share results and accomplishments, ask a question of the group or your network that will help solve a problem, and find employees, suppliers, and/or vendors for the organization.
  3. Use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to find out who in your network knows people at the significant foundations and companies in your marketplace. Then facilitate an introduction to the staff of the nonprofit organization.
  4. Search for and join LinkedIn groups in and out of your regional or local market that appear to be in the same space or have a similar mission as your organization. This is a great way to keep track of what others are doing, saying, and sharing.
  5. Start a LinkedIn group for the organization’s supporters, donors, and/or volunteers. A subgroup can be created to share information that is only pertinent to volunteers, for instance. Starting a group for an event you are planning can help you share information leading up to the event and wrap up information after the event.
  6. Use the Events application to promote the organization’s upcoming events.

Follow these six simple but highly effective steps—all of which can be done without leaving the comfort of your home or office—and then don’t be surprised when the phone rings with an invitation to join the board of your favorite nonprofit!

The Digital Native: 5 Things You Need to Know

March 13th, 2013

By Michelle Manafy, Director of Content at FreePint

Between all generations lie gaps. Yet in the course of some generations, major events occur that cause tectonic shifts. The fact is that many individuals and businesses today face a massive and growing generation gap. As this digital native generation—which has grown up immersed in digital technologies such as the mobile phones, gaming, and social networks—becomes our dominant employee and consumer base, those in older generations must learn to navigate a radically altered landscape in order to succeed in business going forward.

Here are five key insights into the digital native generation that will help you understand how best to leverage their distinct worldview to achieve your business objectives.

  1. They live publicly online. Without a doubt, the notion of privacy didn’t change overnight with the advent of the Internet. For better or worse (or for lack of a better word), we’ve seen an evolution of privacy. It was once the norm to keep one’s dirty laundry tucked away out of site. This gave way to a generation that would share from the relative privacy of a therapist’s couch. More recently, we have witnessed the era of trash-mouth talk shows and reality TV. However, with the digital native, businesses must address the expectations of a generation raised in social networking environments, in which they routinely share every detail of their activities and opinions with a potentially limitless group of friends. Tip: Often, businesses are hamstrung by outdated notions of privacy. They fail to recognize and capitalize on the digital native’s openness. We need to understand the native’s natural inclination to live publicly to guide these activities so that they are consistent with our business objectives. We can also build business models that leverage on this openness, both in the way we structure our employee activities as well as customer interactions.
  2. They share knowledge. Once we recognize that the natives are living their lives out loud, we can begin to understand how this behavior is shapes all aspects of their lives. Despite a good deal of hyperbole about social media and marketing via Twitter and social networks, as many as 50 to 75 percent of organizations limit or ban the use of social networks while on the job. What this demonstrates is not simply a fear of exposure through inappropriate use of social technologies, it shows a distinct lack of understanding of how to effectively manage and channel the knowledge sharing inclination of this generation. Tip: Beyond crafting guidelines to regulate the appropriate use of social networks on the job, proactive use of socially mediated, open, collaborative ways of working can help companies capture otherwise transient knowledge assets. The old adage was that knowledge is power; for the digital native knowledge shared is power.
  3. They believe transparency yields trust. Because digital natives live publicly and value knowledge sharing, organizations that demonstrate a similar level of openness will be the ones that attract and retain them as employees and customers. Digital natives make new friends, followers, and fans every day. However, it is important to keep in mind that it takes a lot of work to maintain the kind of genuine relationship required with the digital native. If digital natives dislike your brand, they will make it publicly known. Luckily, the reverse is also true. Today’s ultra-connected consumer, raised to share and monitor sentiment, may seem like a fickle friend, but that’s only if organizations don’t stay involved by listening, responding, owning up, and doing the work it takes to maintain a genuine, long-term relationship. Tip: When it comes to attracting and retaining this generation as employees, it is essential to recognize that today’s best employees are also monitoring opportunities and discussing employers online. For recruiting, this can provide insights into who the best, brightest, and most social media savvy are. And for employee retention, employers can leverage these same tools and tendencies to make sure they are competitive in the market and respond to concerns in order to attract and retain the best and brightest.
  4. They are timely, not time managed. While most people are painfully aware that the line between “at work” and “off duty” is increasingly blurred, for the native this will be taken to a whole new level. The digital native will move beyond what previous generations called a work/life balance to a new sort of work life integration. For the digital native, work and social activities are ever present—they travel with the native anywhere and anytime. Digital natives may log more hours at their computers during the course of a day than those in previous generations, but they switch back and forth between work and leisure in short bursts. Though this may strike some managers as inappropriate, it helps to realize that while an older worker might head to the break room or a co-worker’s desk to clear his head, natives are more likely to “info snack” or catch up on a quick burst of Facebook updates. Tip: Moving forward, companies that emphasize collaboration, learning, and socialization will see key benefits in comparison to companies that focus solely on productivity. The native doesn’t need to play all day to be happy. However, there’s no reason that work inside an organization can’t be constructively influenced by the expectations of our younger workforce.
  5. They believe in interactions, not transactions. Social networking, social media, social . . . with all this socializing, one might begin to wonder how any business ever gets done. Suffice it to say, it does, and it will continue to do so. However, organizations that develop good social skills will have a competitive advantage over those that remain socially inept. One quality that will be essential for business success going forward is recognizing that this generation is not interested in traditional transactive business models, which are based upon exchanges of money for goods annd services. This is a generation that is interested in interactions. Tip: Unlike a transaction-based system, an interactive one is based upon social currency. The fact is that all aspects of business will need to embrace interaction, from marketing and CRM to product and content creation. This generation doesn’t just want to do business with companies it views as friends; it wants to do business with itself and expects to see its ideals and objectives reflected in the companies it chooses to do business with.

While there are many digital immigrants who are wholeheartedly adopting digital tools, it is not simply emerging technologies that must be mastered. A lifelong immersion has affected the mindset, behavior, and expectations of the digital native generation. To succeed in business with them, we must understand it and build models based on this new native culture.

Will Social Media Change the Face of Modern Marketing?

January 16th, 2013

By Debi Kleiman, President of MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, creators of FutureM)

The very foundation of marketing is transforming before our eyes, and social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in the way marketers communicate.

MITX’s FutureM offers the community a week of events exploring the future of marketing and media, designed to promote innovation and bring the community together around the biggest and most exciting topics facing marketers today. FutureM events address the changing role of social media in marketing, so we reached out to our socially savvy event partners to find out their answers to the following question: “What is social media’s role in the future of marketing?” Here is what they had to say:

  • Ian Cross, Professor of Marketing at Bentley University
    “Social media is woven into the fabric of social discourse and upending conventions about what should be shared, discussed, and presented to society. But the medium is not the message; the message is defining the medium. Technologies will come and go, but the free exchange of real-time information is exciting, and it is challenging organizations and consumers. Tricky questions of censorship, organized riot and revolt, and online identity will need to be resolved. But right now, let’s embrace the unfettered exchange of ideas and technology that bring us together and resist efforts to command and control.”
  • John Fichera, Boston University student and intern, The Castle Group and CMO, FutureM Student Committee
    “Social media makes marketing personal. For example, if you see that one of your friends is into a certain product or brand (e.g., via Facebook), then this can spark your interest to at least research the product, raising name recognition.”
  • Chris Pollara, CEO of Convertiv
    “As adoption continues to grow, social media will become the preferred connection point and education vehicle between brands and consumers. Leading organizations will need to adopt and scale accordingly. Well-executed campaigns will motivate your community by fostering natural, self-sustaining conversation centered on consumer-generated media.”
  • Matt Rainone, Manager of Strategic Marketing at AMP Agency
    “The future of social is less about the channels and more about how, when, and where we’re accessing them. Our emotional connections to our devices point to a future where our social profiles, location-based services, and mobile payment systems converge to create an always-connected, one-step-from-purchase lifestyle.”
  • Marty Watts, Director of the Meltwater Group
    “In the future, social media will alter the role of (PR, advertising, and digital) agencies, and more importantly, how these service businesses are run. By leveraging the slew of new social media technologies, these organizations will be able to drive down fixed operating costs while generating net new revenues through digital client work. It will be exciting to watch which agencies embrace this sea change and succeed and those that cannot adapt and go the way of the Dodo.”

Social media is evolving as a force—if not THE force—in modern marketing. As e-commerce and social grow together, websites like Twitter, Facebook, and the young Google+ are becoming the playground for experimental marketing. This is creating new challenges for marketers, buyers, sellers, and others within the social ecosystem. As innovations—such as Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories”—show, there are plenty of up-and-coming ways to turn social media into a powerful marketing medium.

The modern social media strategist must be part technologist and part behaviorist. As marketing leaders, we must be willing to experiment with and implement technology while studying the changes in human behavior that come with new and evolving social media adoption. As our experts stated above, we are in the midst of foundational change. Who’s brave enough to create social media’s future?

Google+: Where Do You Fit In?

December 19th, 2012

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

Google+ has taken the social media world by storm. The search engine mammoth has finally created a social network with some traction, and everyone is taking notice, including Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team. At this point, businesses should be sitting up and paying attention. But should you be jumping into the new social venture?

Google+ offers features that can be highly beneficial to businesses. Features that even Facebook can’t match. For example, there is Hangouts. This feature allows for you and ten friends to video chat all at once. This is a simple, hassle-free way to video conference with clients, partners, and more. Video chatting can be more fun than a standard conference call, and it is a way for you to connect with your clients in a more personal way. Really get to know your cross-country customers.

Circles is another feature that can make life easier for your business. Have circles of friends dedicated specifically for the companies that you work with. Send out messages directly to the people you want to have read them. This way, you can keep up a personal, engaging relationship through the social network without the pain of having to sift through long lists of friends.

There is also Huddle. This is a way for you to chat with all the members of a Circle. You can use this for interoffice communication purposes. Keep everyone informed about meetings, time changes, new clients, and more.

These three great features of Google+ can easily be used to help your office’s efforts in communication. Google+ bridges the gap from social media interaction to real-time, practical, personal interaction. From the social network, relationships can improve with clients, prospects, employees, and business partners.

If you decide to jump into Google+, have a plan in place. Aggregate some influential and worthwhile Circles that can immediately give you people to connect with. Just like Twitter and Facebook, have a content strategy for when you are going to push out content and how you are going to engage your audiences.

Give Google+ a try. The more people who join, the better and more effective the features will become. And with a little planning, those features can greatly enhance your business.

Wow, What a Story!

September 26th, 2012

By Adam Karwoski, Founder of Social Brand U

Isn’t social media cool? Since I graduated college in 1992, I’ve been involved with two of the biggest fundamental shifts in communications in our history: mobile phones and social media. I started selling cellular phones in 1994 for BellSouth Mobility and just left that industry last summer. I started dabbling in social media since that time, and I’ve uncovered a new-found passion. Long story short, six months later, I’ve started my own social media consulting company. (I think that’s kind of cool, too. Owning your own business is part of the American dream, right?)

I began to put pen to paper to find out what really jazzed me about social media. What’s the catch? In my last blog post, I talked about a friend of mine who in 2009 asked me if I was on Facebook, and I said, “No, I’m not 16 years old.” Little does he know that I remember that comment to this day.

Here are the reasons why I think social media is cool and why people love it, companies love it, and our culture loves it:

  • I love technology, and I think we all do. Social media is a new kind of technology. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like cellular technology back in the day. You couldn’t see the voice transmissions of a cell call, but making a call on a Motorola flip phone was just “cool.” Social media is real-time communication on a speakerphone with the world, where everyone or just a few loved ones can see talk, write, send videos, share photos, write articles, find jobs, get advice, or listen to what their favorite movie star or football player has to say. Technology is awesome, and social media has taken it to a new level.
  • Our entire existence is based on relationships. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, chances are we’re communicating constantly and building relationships. A hundred years ago, it was around a campfire in the wilderness. Fifty years ago, it was in a mother’s home over tea and Tupperware. Today, it’s online and on our smartphones almost every hour of every day. There are plenty of downsides to social media, but that’s for someone else to write about. I love people, I love building relationships with people, and I love to learn from other people. Social media allows me to do all three all the time—and that’s cool.
  • The best parts of social media are the stories; e.g., your story. Everyone has a story to tell. And I would argue that almost everyone has a compelling story to tell. If the volume of books, articles, and blogs are any indication of how many of us have a story to tell, then it makes complete sense to me why social media has exploded in recent years and will continue to evolve, expand, and become even more popular. Small business owners are learning that social media allows them to listen to their customers’ “stories” while allowing them to share their own. That conversation is taking place every day on social media.
  • Stories draw people in. There’s power in telling stories. Look no further than Hollywood (Mark Zuckerberg has a cool story to tell). And social media success stories are everywhere, especially in business. Many small businesses understand social media and use it quite effectively because they haven’t forgotten how to tell their stories, which helps build relationships with their customers. But it requires you to be transparent and genuine. That builds trust. Trust with your customers builds your business. And whether it’s an idea, a product, or a vision, people buy from who they know, like, and trust.

Technology, relationships, and stories. Those are the reasons why social media has exploded. What’s your story? Whatever it is, share it and start a conversation. You will build relationships with others that will inspire, teach, encourage, and “wow” you.

The Practical Marketing Applications of Facebook (Part 2 of 4)

January 4th, 2012

By Sam Mallikarjunan, Chief Executive Officer of Mallikarjunan Media Group

Part 1

“Like” Me!

The most well-known is the Facebook “like” button. Whereas Facebook used to give users the option to become “fans” of something—be it a brand or company or person—they can now “like” something with a single click. The “like” button is easy to install on any website. If used properly, it allows the owner of the page to publish updates into the news feeds of all the users that “like” that page. This is incredibly valuable, as it makes it easy to turn a single visitor into a returning one without having to capture an e-mail address. Whereas e-mail marketing has long been the predominant information-capture focus of most websites, gathering “likes” is quickly gaining in importance. The Facebook “like” button should be on every page of your website, and you should use the people that like it to create sticky traffic by publishing relevant updates into their news feeds.

You can incentivize people to “like” your posts and pages using different methods. First and foremost, organic “likes” will be the most valuable. People who genuinely appreciate your content are more likely to be great customers, brand loyal, and engaged on your page, as well as share the content with others. However, you can stimulate activity with incentivized contests and games. A favorite strategy of mine is to make a post (either on the brand’s Facebook page itself or on a blog) and say, “‘Like’ this post for a chance to win (insert something somewhat valuable here).” For example, if you’re writing an article about a cool inbound marketing service, you might offer a free consultation, a free month’s service, or even just a free T-shirt to a random winner from those who “like” the post or publish an update back into their news feeds to come back and win the prize.

Facebook also has an incredibly useful comments module which will allow people to leave comments on your website while logged into Facebook. Since there’s a small probability that some of your visitors may not have Facebook accounts, I’d strongly recommend that you create a back-up comment module, similar to the one on the CigarRobbie.com blog. This useful widget allows your users to carry the conversation about your page or brand back to their networks of Facebook friends, since by default, it will post back to their profiles. Essentially, comments now have the power to share your content far beyond just your own visitors and into each of their social networks. This module also includes a “like” button with the same features and flexibility.

Add a Facebook “like” button to every page on your site, and decide what relevant content you want to share with those who click it.

Easy Logins

There is a great deal of value in having users be able to login and register at your site. It can create unique user accounts for them or create a unique experience. The need to identify one user from another is as fundamental to any other site as it is to Facebook itself. Many sites, such as Formspring.me, now allow you to register for their sites with a single click rather than the formerly arduous process of registering at a site by entering your name, age, state, zip, e-mail, gender… you get the idea.

Remember that Internet marketing is much like electricity. Users will take the path of least resistance, but the more resistance (i.e., steps) in the process, the more people that you’ll lose—whether it be user registrations or value conversions. By making it incredibly simple to register an account on your site by using Facebook’s one-click login, you’ve instantly created a system that’s easy to use with low resistance. Also, by integrating it with Facebook where users can revoke access and permissions, you’ve made people feel more comfortable than they may have been giving you their personal or contact information to begin with.

Keep in mind that not everyone has Facebook, so you should offer other registration options on your site as well.

Decide if there is any reason to have a visitor register with your site. If so, make Facebook a one-click option.

Part 3

The Practical Marketing Applications of Facebook (Part 1 of 4)

December 21st, 2011

By Sam Mallikarjunan, Chief Executive Officer of Mallikarjunan Media Group

Any business owner, from the Fortune 500 to the corner liquor store, has heard about the tremendous potential of social media for Internet marketing. However, although everyone acknowledges and accepts that social media has great potential, and many of them know they should be involved, few people understand the specific, practical marketing applications for social media sites.

In this four-part blog post, I’m going to profile one such social media site: Facebook. I’ll also share some data that I’ve aggregated through my research. Keep in mind that there are many third-party applications that make using Facebook easier that I’ll profile as well.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in the social media marketing world. The brainchild of Harvard geek Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook now has more than 500 million users (yeah, that’s about seven percent of the population of the entire planet) and has created a phenomenon of unprecedented scope and scale.

Hundreds of millions of people spend huge segments of their daily lives on this single site, interacting with friends, sharing content, playing games, and scheduling or organizing their social lives. It’s become a venue for collective action, knowledge, and an incredibly detail-rich (if personally detached) social environment. Users willingly share an incredible amount of personal information, and they greatly trust product and service recommendations made by members of their network.

Facebook has also created a incredible scale of off-site integration. Although many social sites—such as Twitter, Digg, Buzz, and others—have buttons that allow you to share content, Facebook has created a phenomenon with its social plug-in applications. Facebook’s Developers Guide is probably the best way to find out more about what options it offers and how to install them.

If you haven’t already, go to the Facebook site and create a personal profile for yourself.

Part 2

“Give Me that Old-Time (Marketing) Religion:” The Importance of Focus and Commitment when Using Social Media

November 23rd, 2011

By Jim Lyons, Professor at the University of Phoenix

Lately, I’ve been working on a LinkedIn project assigned to me by our local campus of the University of Phoenix. And in taking it on, I’ve repeatedly been reminded of the “marketing basics” which I profess, literally, at the very same institution. I’m finding that with social media projects, like any other marketing-related activity, time-honored practices—such as focusing on a well-defined marketing strategy with clear objectives, clearly identifying a target market, and committing to a plan over a reasonable time period—are as relevant as ever.

By way of a little background, the local campus staff had asked me to shore up the LinkedIn group we’d started a couple of years back, and which like so many other social media attempts had gone somewhat stagnant after a fast start. This interest fit nicely with my personal ambition to help give our faculty a better feeling of connectedness—getting to know each other better as both undergrad- and graduate-level instructors (all part-timers), as well as members of the much broader professional community where we each pursue our very diverse “day jobs.” My vision was to make the LinkedIn group a virtual “faculty office building,” where we could get to know each other and collaborate in the virtual world, something that the University of Phoenix knows very well, at least from an online education standpoint.

There, too, was an interest within the client organization of making the group a discussion forum to be joined by at least the more engaged students, as well as alums and even “friends” of the university, including local business and community leaders. Also, it could perhaps become somewhat of a job-seekers forum as well. It didn’t stop there, either, and with this growing set of objectives, I started to feel overwhelmed.

Focus

As I began to think about implementation, I went back to good, sound marketing fundamentals. And when it came to defining the product/service I was enhancing, I had to ask myself a key question: “Who is the target market?” Obviously, the answer to the question had quickly become “many groups.” The next question then became: “Can I successfully serve this many masters?” (The answer to this question is invariably on the negative side of the scale, at least when put to the reality test.)

We are still working on the right approach, but as time goes on, the objective of providing a fun and friendly faculty familiarity/recognition platform seems to be winning out. We may need to launch a new group or sub-group to target another set of objectives/markets, but when has this stopped a good marketer?

Commitment

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Starting a new business, launching a new product, or kicking off an advertising/PR campaign takes time, too. We have all been there—we get impatient, pull the plug too soon, or get wooed by a newer idea. And in the world of social networking—just like face-to-face, old-fashioned networking—patience is everything.

I’m reminded of my attempt to help a former colleague get his footing after a long period of unemployment by having him as my guest at a meeting of our local entrepreneurs’ networking group. After that first meeting, he thanked me, concluding with something like, “Well, we’ve done that. Let’s see what happens,” (as if based on his six or eight brief introductory conversations, the job offers would start rolling in). Sorry, friend, but networking is a long-term investment, and even in this world, which we often perceive to be all about instant gratification, a commitment to a plan—and sticking to it—is as critical as ever.

Knowing your customer, not trying to do too much, having clear objectives, and exercising patience—just a little of that old-time (marketing) religion!

How Social Networks Help Us Choose

November 9th, 2011

By Berenice Ring, Professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas

Have you noticed how many decisions we need to make nowadays and the amount of details involved in each one? Surely life was much easier in the early 20th century, when consumer staples were sold in bulk and housewives had their goods chosen for them by the shopkeeper, whom they relied on and trusted.

If you wanted to buy a car in 1915, the choice was quite simple. The only automaker was Ford—who had introduced the assembly line—and the options boiled down to one model, the Model T. In 1987, Brazilian consumers could choose automobiles from six makers: Ford, Volkswagen, Fiat, GM, Gurgel, and Toyota. By 2008, 36 car manufacturers offered their vehicles, exponentially increasing our options.

A 1991 supermarket offered 15,000 items; today, in the same store, we find almost 50,000—including 100 types of yogurt and 200 models of mobile phones!

However, abundance of choices does not necessarily mean better decisions. As psychologist and professor Barry Schwartz points out in his wonderful book, The Paradox of Choice, the huge amount of options adds excessive strain to the decision-making process, causing exhaustion and discouragement. Furthermore, making one choice means relinquishing all other options, so that your preferred alternative seems less appealing and even elicits a sense of loss.

Until recently, people counteracted this frustration by consulting other people they trusted. But today, our world has become an ocean of information. For instance, if you’re planning a honeymoon trip to New York City, sites like TripAdvisor will provide complete information on virtually every hotel in the city. For example, if you decide to spend your hard-earned money on a wedding night at The Pierre, the famous hotel featured in several movies, you can read online comments by the site’s user community, ranging from “Great hotel!” to “Disappointing.” It is a huge benefit to get recommendations not only from your travel agent but from people who have stayed there recently. And upon your return, if you invite friends over for dinner, you can visit Epicurious on Facebook to find recipes, or you can search Twitter using the hashtag #recipes to find plentiful tips from users.

Some brands have grasped this new trend and offer their customers a dedicated section for comments and criticism, such as My Kmart and MySears Community. Other sites were specifically founded upon this trend, such as byMK and Polyvore, which allow users to express themselves.

The penetration of social networks today is amazing. A recent survey shows that 90% of respondents know at least one—and on average, four—social network websites. Facebook is the best example, of course, with more than 500 million users and countless communities. And if you want to find customer reviews of New York restaurants, the American site Yelp lists 12,000-plus establishments—not to mention more than 7,000 stores—along with user reviews of dentists, architects, and even surgeons.

As a Nielsen study confirms, “Recommendations by personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally.” The study of 25,000 Internet consumers in 50 countries shows that nine in ten people trust recommendations of people they know, and seven in ten trust online recommendations from strangers.

In this scenario, a good social media strategy can do wonders for a brand in terms engaging its audiences. Can the brand help consumers make better choices or play the role of an early 20th century “shopkeeper” whom its customers trust and rely on? Are brands making the best of this tremendous opportunity?

Strategic Networking on Social Media

November 17th, 2010

By Frank Agin, Co-Author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website

Successful networking requires a multi-faceted attack. That is, to have a highly productive network, you need to involve yourself in the world from lots of different angles.

You need to continually work your contacts in your networking groups, such as trade associations, civic organizations, and structured referral groups. You need to make a point of attending various networking functions—such as chamber after hours, trade shows, and business open houses. And you need to engage in free-form networking—including things like individual face-to-face meetings, a round of golf, or other activities where you connect with others in an informal manner.

In addition, to be a successful networker in the 21st century, you need to embark upon a degree of networking using specifically designed Web sites, better know as social media. You could cast a presence on LinkedIn. Or you could involve yourself on Facebook. Or you could work yourself onto one of the many other social networking sites out there. Using any one of these can be a great means of adding another weapon to your networking arsenal. After all, these sites have a worldwide reach and operate literally around the clock.

The reality is, however, that LinkedIn, Facebook, and other forms of online social media are just tools in the networking process. They aid you in the development of relationships, but none of them replaces the need for good old-fashioned networking. If you want to be successful using online social media, you need to follow the same rules you would use when networking in the real world. Call this “LinkedWorking”—applying real-world networking habits to social media. Some examples of LinkedWorking include:

  • See opportunities in everyone. In the real world, everyone is connected—directly or indirectly—to opportunity for you. As such, you should approach everyone with open-minded respect. This is the same with online social media. You should never dismiss people because of the content of their profiles or stature in life. You just never know with whom they are connected.
  • Lead a life of altruism. In the real world, the number one way to be successful in networking is to commit to giving to the world around you. The same holds true for online social media. With everyone that you connect, ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” Then commit to taking action. If you do, things will come back to you in spades.
  • Take consistent action patiently over time. In the real world, a flurry of networking once or twice a year generally yields very little, as building strong relationships takes time. This sort of binge networking does no better when it comes to online social media. When you network online, as in the real world, commit to taking consistent, moderate action. Over time, you will be amazed at all that comes your way using this approach. Remember that networking is more like a crock pot than a microwave. With online social networking, the same is true—patience is a critical ingredient.

Successful networking requires you to work on several different fronts. In the 21st century, that should include social media. To successfully operate on this technological front, however, you need to practice LinkedWorking. That is, do the same things in networking online that you would do in the real world.