Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marketing Yourself or Your Company with Social Networking

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to build your network, find a job or close a deal, social networking, such as LinkedIn.com, is not for you and nor is this article. However, if you've come to the realization that in today's market, buyers, whether they are actual customers or someone looking to pay you, ie. hire you, are more selective, then please, read on.

Commit Time and Effort
Building any type of relationship takes time and effort. The best advice I've recently heard is to build your network before you need it. This advice can be applied to all phases of our lives.

Let's say your car breaks down. Wouldn't you want to call a friend to help you? Or, you could just stand by the side of a dark road in the middle of nowhere and hope to "network" with someone that would be willing to help you. And, why is it always a dark road in the middle of nowhere? Why don't cars breakdown in broad daylight in the middle of a busy intersection? But, I digress. My point is, wouldn't it be great to have a network of 100, 200, or even 500 people you could call on to help land a new job if you are laid off?

Making Connections
Having recently left a marketing management position, I had been growing my network sometimes accidentlly, and other times, on purpose. These connections have been invaluable to me as I search for a new marketing career. But, there was no instant flip of the switch to make me connected and I have a long way to go to be in a position that I can say, "Wow, I really am connected."

Most of my connections are true connections - people I actually know in some way, shape or form, from co-workers, to professional industry connections. Some connected because we were members of the same group or in the same industry, others because one of us thought we could generate business from the other. No matter what the reason for the connection is, it's my opinion, unless you're connecting just so you can have 1000 people to spam to, it's a good connection.

As a side note, people aren't stupid. If you are trying to connect to them for unscrupulous reasons such as spamming, generating web traffic, or hard selling -- they'll smell you a mile away. Social media is the new playground. Play by the rules, or get sand thrown in your face.

Build Your Network Now
Going back to my comment about how it was better to "build your network before you need it." Unfortunately, we all have things we kick ourselves later for doing or not doing. But, even if you find yourself alone on that dark road without a solid network, there's still hope. Everyone starts with their first connection and successful networkers continue to build their network in good times and in bad. Bottom line, it's never too late to start. But, you must start.

Putting together a social networking plan may seem overwhelming. Trust me, I know. As a 40-something marketing professional who is forever challenging herself with new technology, at times, I'm even intimidated by these fresh out of college, "I grew up with an i-pod" kids. Knowing that I grew up with no remote controlled tv, laptop computer or cell phone makes me something of a dinosaur in internet years; however, if you don't adapt to the times, you'll become the dinosaur.

As far as which social networks I'd personally recommend to use to find a job or to network to generate business. All of them; however, start simple. The most business focused social media outlet is LinkedIn.

Remember, although you may "know" these people, keep it professional. No one wants read your updates on last night at the bar, how your baby took his first steps, or how you're single again. Unless, you work as a bartender, you're in some type of child development career, or are a gold digger and decided you no longer want to work. And, yes - that last one was to see if you're still paying attention!

Getting Started with LinkedIn
Getting started with social networking is simple. But, so many people fail to take that first step and to follow through. I think this is what will separate those of us who are successful, and those who are not. Yes, you could sit on the couch and watch another night of mindless tv. You could spend your lunch hour chewing the fat with co-workers discussing last night's game. Or, you could spend one hour a day making connections for your future. It's your choice. Please, don't be the dinosaur. Just follow these ten easy steps.

1. Set up a LinkedIn account.
2. Publish your profile.
3. Get out those old business cards - look up people you know.
4. Find personal connections too.
5. Join LinkedIn groups related to your profession, industry, expertise.
6. Comb through your connections connections and expand your network.
7. Join and attend professional networking groups - add these new connections.
8. Post updates regarding your career search, what your business is currently doing, etc.
9. Read discussion posts - make comments as appropriate - be professional.
10. Have fun. Meeting new people can be stressful for some. Just remember, they're just people.

About Maureen McHale:
Maureen McHale is a Central Florida resident seeking a marketing management career. Ms. McHale has over 13 years of traditional and internet marketing experience. Additionally, her career has spanned over numerous industries from travel to high tech to solar energy and she is able to adapt her knowledge and skills successfully in almost any environment. Maureen has a passion for the internet, new technology and writing. She authors several blogs with topics ranging from Solar Knowledge to Kidnapped Children to Dying Rich. For more information regarding Maureen McHale's qualifications and to see her full resume, please visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/MaureenMcHale.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Thanks Maureen!!

I felt as though I was getting a tune-up on certain practises and a few new ideas as well.

I thought your article was well conceived and nicely written.

Charlie
Career Management Network