Engage through social media
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media is a great way to engage directly with customers and others who may take interest in your business. It is an excellent way of making initial contact and establishing social presence. But why would you want to establish social presence?
The answer is simple: that is where people are. FastCompany delivers amazing social media statistics: YouTube reaches more American adults more than any cable TV network, and social media users in the 55- to 64-year old bracket have grown 79%. Social media is where your competitors and potential business partners are, too. 93% of small to medium enterprise owners are using social media as part of their business campaign. Combined, the average monthly traffic of Facebook and Twitter reach nearly 1.5 billion (Facebook takes a huge majority of the pie). While LinkedIn may have a very low engagement among its users, it is still a great venue to find relevant business contact.
Get out there and meet them
Social media is an excellent way to engage massive traffic. However, the only way to build strong, successful business relations is to meet your partners in person. Meeting over coffee or going to an industry event will let you build an effective network. It also creates a social momentum: meeting people will help you meet more and more people. Don’t let your network stagnate over social media. It can make the partnership dull and you start to lose the strong, exciting energy of having met new people.
Mind your pace
Networking is not about doing it as fast as possible or taking all the time in the world. Different people have different paces of establishing relations. Don’t rush and make the other person feel you’re only there for what’s in it for you. Don’t take too long and make the other person feel that you’re taking too much of their time. How your conversation goes will give you a hint of how long it should take. It’s not wrong to have a short conversation. Neither is it wrong to be lost in a discussion with one person.
Get real with your goals
Skyscrapers don’t pop up overnight—they are built slowly from underground to top. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to sign up a dozen clients in one month. But it is also important to start small, like aiming to get a few business cards before lunch or getting a couple of people to coffee in the next week.
Organize your network
The average business card size in the US is 3.5 by 2 inches. That’s very easy to misplace. Once you have gathered business cards in an industry event or over coffee table, make sure to enter them into your mobile device or laptop. There are many mobile apps and desktop apps, aside from the boring spreadsheet, you can use to store and organize contacts. Make sure to leave descriptions about each contact, something that stood out during your engagement. Nothing spells networking disaster more than mixing up one person for another.
Follow up and show some love
You can’t engage with your network all the time. But a simple Facebook “like” or a retweet every now and then will help keep that network strong.
Author: Ethan Robinson is an Australia-based online marketing strategist who constantly works with local and international clients. He is currently partnering with US-based Small Business Expo to get more SME owners together and build business-impacting networks.