As a business professional, one can hardly go anywhere these days
without hearing people discuss the topic of social media. A quick stop by the
local coffee shop will likely result in hearing terms like “tweeting”, “blogging” and other web jargon. Unfortunately, many professionals only have a rudimentary understanding of the importance of social media and its potential to have an immediate and amazingly positive impact on one’s career.
What is social media? Basically, social media is a set of technologies and tools that allow people to connect easily and distribute information expediently online. Social networks are a type of social media that allow people to connect based on common interests, shared contacts, industries or other similarities. Examples of popular social networks would be Myspace or Facebook.
Business professionals can leverage social media and social networks to drastically grow their network of contacts in a relatively short period of time. Imagine connecting with hundreds of people in a single day. How many face-to-face networking events would it take to make that same impact? Additionally, these tools can be leveraged to increase brand awareness, find potential vendors and partners as well as draw potential clients. Savvy professionals not only
know how to use these networks individually, but also find ways to cross promote themselves or their businesses using multiple networks. There are literally hundreds of social networks in existence. The following social media are three of the most impactful yet misunderstood:
A blog is a website that allows the owner(s) to communicate thoughts and information regarding a particular subject. Blogs can be used to communicate industry information, educate the public or even serve as an online diary of sorts. Blogs are powerful tools because they allow businesses to have a two-way conversation with current and potential clients. Blogs can also serve as a platform to grow one’s following or celebrity. Sites like WordPress.com and
Blogger.com allows anyone to start their own free blog. For those that need a more customized setup, many web designers also create custom blogs. What makes blogs more powerful that static websites is their ability to keep clients and followers coming back for additional information and to participate in conversations. Traditional websites only allow companies to talk at clients; blogs allow companies to talk with clients.
Every business professional should have a profile on Linkedin.com. Linkedin is a social network strictly for business professionals. It is fairly easy to set up and navigate because it lacks much of the flair common to other networks; there are no backgrounds, glitter graphics or multiple picture upload options. Most professionals get caught up in the trend of trying to make the most
connections possible. However, to do this is to miss the point. The primary purpose of Linkedin is to increase efficiency partially by acting as an advanced online Yellow Pages. When someone does a search for “doctor”, the results are displayed in order of those individuals most closely connected with the searcher. For instance, doctors that are my direct contacts would pull up first, then doctors that may be friends with my contacts, next those that are friends of my contacts’ friends, and so on and so forth. When I click on a doctor’s profile, I can also see recommendations. Should I happen to observe that two of my friends recommended them, I will likely make an appointment with that doctor. In other words, Linkedin uses the power of word of mouth advertising without anyone having to say a word!
Additionally, Linkedin has a really neat question and answer forum and groups section where professionals can build their expert status as well as expand their networks. Linkedin has many cool applications, including one that will display your blog entries directly in your Linkedin profile!
Twitter is by far one of the most misunderstood social networks in existence. Setting up your profile takes less than five minutes. Twitter does not allow you to import your friends like other social networks nor can you post pictures or anything besides messages that are 140 characters or less. In other words, Twitter is a micro blogging platform. You gain followers based on the quality of content that you are providing in your updates. If you are a business
professional in the fashion industry, you might post updates about upcoming events, tips and links to news articles. To get the most out of your account, you will also post links to your website, blog and even Linkedin account. With Twitter, you want to be able to take your Twitter followers and convert them into potential clients, blog subscribers or friends on other networks.
The number one rule of being a successful business professional is network, network, network! Social media allows business professionals, college students and entrepreneurs to super size their networks in a fraction of the time!
Crystal Washington is the owner of Houston-based marketing firm Black-Market Exchange. For more information about social media as well as marketing tips, please email crystal at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crystalwashington.com