Young enterprise is a topic close to my own heart, so I’m really excited about not only sharing my own experiences but reading the other contributions to this month’s issue.
In any enterprise, not just young enterprise, social media is the gateway to the world. You can reach customers, investors, mentors, co-op partners, all the stakeholders interested in a business.
I don’t run my own business but I network like I do. You never know what is round the corner. Think of social media as one big cocktail party where you are there to build future relationships that will help your business grow.
To put this into a real world context I’m going to take my own social interactions as a case study.
I’m active on Twitter and have a professional profile on LinkedIn, I blog on various outlets too. I have a couple of other niche networks but I’m not really that active on those. My blogging, Twitter use and LinkedIn profile alone have allowed me to build up a network of valuable contacts.
I now have a network of people in business, academia, people who work in social media, PR, media, people in C suites all over the world.
Do you think a doctoral student would have such a network without social media?
Yes, I would have academic contacts and a few local and maybe national contacts but global?!
Through my social interactions I have built relationships with people who will mentor me in business, help with a business plan and give advice on funding, if I so wish. I’ve also met many people offline and from these relationships people are willing to refer my social media skills. I now go for more coffee with online contacts in a week than probably what I have done my whole life. And I have made new friends.
In the last few months I’ve also joined an advisory board, been asked to guest lecture at two universities, give a keynote speech at an event, work on developing course materials, I’ve been asked to attend networking events, blog, you get where I am going with this.
This is me, one person, a student. Yes my background is in marketing and social media but I sincerely think if I can do it you can do it too.
There are organisations, niche networks, mentors, crowd funding bodies all waiting for you to find and build relationships with on social media. Use social media to your advantage.
Eight key takeaways
- Pick the right platforms to network and build relationships on. I would add promote your business but I don’t like that, it’s all relationship building, customer, partner or whatever. You do not need to be on all platforms to make it work for you; choose the right ones for your business.
- Join in others conversations. If you know about the topic, find it interesting, want to know more… respond to them.
- Search and engage with people in your industry, in enterprise, mentoring, anything you are looking for help with, want to connect to or partnership with. Don’t leave it as a connection, numbers don’t matter, engage with them – build the relationship.
- Join niche communities, groups, whatever. But don’t just join, add value to the network by joining in the conversation or adding your own content to discuss. I’ve made great connections recently through LinkedIn Groups.
- Numbers don’t matter. This is so true when you start out on social media, you have 0 fans, followers, likes, circles. That doesn’t matter, what matters is the content you produce. I’ve made many connections through blogging valuable and interesting content – why don’t you do the same in your industry.
- Show your personality. I’m very passionate about social media, I ooze enthusiasm for the subject, practice and theory. People buy into enthusiasm. Social media allows you to demonstrate not only your expertise in your area but your enthusiasm through tone of voice and personality. Don’t be an auto-bot.
- Social media take time, be patient, don’t worry but if one platform really isn’t working for you don’t be afraid to leave. I know Karen left Facebook for Twitter for the3rdi network of choice.
- Have fun. This is important and links back to personality. If you find social media a chore then it is but if you have an open mind and have fun with your global audience it will pay rewards.
I know time, money and other resources are an issue. Social media is time intensive, there is no mystical calculation for ROI but think about the relationships you can make, the connections to people who may have not been possible, and the imprint you are making on the world.
Social media is not all about selling your business, you can make meaningful, lasting and lucrative connections too.
You can connect with me on Twitter @jillney and on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jillianney