The rapid rate of technological advancement over the past few years and the incredible growth in social media networks has made connecting and communicating with people easier than ever before. This has led to the illusion that when using social media as a networking and marketing tool for your business, you must attempt to connect with as many people as possible, building superficial connection with thousands of people. This strategy may work if you are in a business that relies on this type of superficial connection with a mass market, to sell your products or services. My experience has shown me that very few, if any businesses, have enjoyed success with a strategy of simply trying to exponentially grow the numbers on their social media networks.The secret for utilising social media as an effective means to network and market your products and services successfully and to regain the personal touch in the new digital world, is to accept that it is never about how many contacts you have. It is always about the number of quality contacts you have. Despite the apparent ease of making thousands of superficial connections via social media networks, the fundamentals of networking and marketing still apply. You still need to know who your ideal clients are, what their needs are, where to find them and then to connect with them, so that they can get to know, like and trust you and your business.Unless you connect with the right people, who need what you have to sell. Building mutually beneficial relationships with them, whereby you can support each other, share ideas, leads and information. You are wasting your efforts on social media. The need to be a great matchmaker is as important today as it was before the advent of social media. Yes we need to be seen, build credibility for our brand and bring attention to our businesses via all the marketing channels available to us, including all the social media platforms.One of the best ways to connect with the people we want to do business with and turn social media into a power tool for success is to explore opportunities to connect these people with other people, who they need, in a mutually beneficial way. The law of reciprocity, states that people are always willing to help people that helped them. Get to know your targeted group of clients by using social media and search engines to research these prospects. Once you have an understanding of their businesses and their needs, explore your network and see if you can help them to connect with someone in your network that can support or assist them in any way.The second way of utilising social media as a networking and marketing power tool is to consistently post relevant, useful information, which your network finds of value. Over time the people in your network will grow to respect you as an expert and they will get to know like and trust you and your business. People always make a buying decision based on their emotions, only using logic to guide them. So as soon as you have managed to get people to know, like and trust you. Getting them to buy from you is simple.As I stated before your social media network must consist of carefully selected people that need what you have to sell. This ensures that your message is reaching the right people and over time these targeted individuals will start to do business with you. Communicating your message and offering consistent value to your social media network can be facilitated in a number of different ways. You can simply post short exerts directly on the social media platforms. If you have a longer message you want to publish, you could create a blog where you write longer articles and then post links to your blog posts, onto your social media platforms. By following these links people will be able to read, like and comment on your articles.Another way of building connection with people and becoming the resident expert on your social media platforms, is to comment on others people’s posts or blogs and to retweet things that are aligned with your vision and networking and marketing objectives. Your objective whenever working on your social media networking and marketing strategy, is to ensure that you consistently add value, so that people invest time to read and utilise your information. Success in using social media as a power tool for networking or marketing your business is always found in giving and never taking.These new high-tech methods of networking and marketing our businesses have opened new doors of opportunity. It has become far easier to identify and meet the right people and have direct access to our markets. This ability to communicate a relevant message, which is of value to our market, makes creating awareness about our products and services simple. It also allows us to appear to have a very large presence in the market place.Invest the time to learn to use social media as an effective marketing tool. As you learn the skills needed to successfully develop and sustain your social media marketing strategy you will gradually build momentum and increase your influence and visibility. This will give you access to a system that will allow you to leverage maxim advantage from technology for very little cost. During this entire process, always stay focused on building only mutually beneficial relationships and you will have the added benefit of enriching your life too.When you read a tweet, blog or an online post that is aligned with your networking or marketing strategy and you support the author by offering them a compliment or a different perspective. You are opening up a whole new world of opportunity. You get to connect with new friends online, who are aligned with and need your products or services. These remain only superficial relationships and if you want to use these contacts to support your business or buy your products you will need to foster meaningful relationships with these new connections. These are by no means the type of relationship you will need to develop if you want to grow your business. You cannot depend on any of these connections to support you or to help you with meaningful referrals. If you want to really network with these people you will need to pull them out of your social media pool and make real contact with them.Always have you antennae out; looking for ways to connect people that you feel will be beneficial to each other. As you grow your list of contacts and connections always remember that networking is not about how to get the cash registers ringing. It is about connecting with people, forming mutually beneficial relationships, where the payoff may only be sharing information, support, advice or introductions. The advantage may simply be the benefit of sharing a cup of tea with someone that will expand your thinking.The way you can stand head and shoulders above your competition is to commit to blend old school networking with social media. If you are planning to attend an in person function, follow the simple procedure as laid out below:If it is possible contact the organizers and see who is attending the function.
Research the people by visiting LinkedIn, Google or Facebook and see who you want to connect with on the day. By identifying key individuals before the event and knowing a little about them places you in a very favourable position to connect with them at the event.
Subscribe to their blogs or ezines.
Try to discover some background information on all of the people you want to meet. This will give you something to initiate the conversation with them when you meet at any networking event. All the information you gather before the event will help you to build rapport with these really important contacts at the event.
Print pictures of the people you want to connect with and search them out at the event. This saves a huge amount of wasted time at networking events trying to discover the right people to connect with.
Does the event have a # tag? Use the # tag to tweet during and after the event. This feature on Twitter allows you to visit the # tag group after the event and see what everyone at that event was tweeting during the event. Reading these tweets after the event will help you to identify other people that may need what you sell.
Follow anyone that is tweeting about the event on twitter.
Tweet any specific attendees, before the event and invite them to connect at the event.
Make a twitter list of all attendees and tweet about it. This will make you the go to guy for information.
At the event tweet live about the event via your mobile device with the # tag.
This will help you build rapport with other attendees and build relationships with the organizers. They will love the visibility you are creating for the event.Social media is here to stay and has changed the way we network and market our businesses forever. The fundamentals of business will always apply and people will always be the final decision makers, but technology has now made these functions so much more streamlined. Social media is not something to fear and avoid it is a powerful tool that when used properly, will catapult your business to levels of success you can only imagine.http://www.andrewhorton.co.za