Build your Network to Build your Business

An article from Richard Branson on Entrepreneur.com suggests that when you’re starting a business, you should network early and often – saying that the first step on the road to business success is building a network.  With LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ it’s easy to find avenues to launch, connect, and grow your business.

Not sold on the benefits of social for your business?  Neither is Patty Azzarello, who says social media still can’t compete with face-to-face interactions as a way to build your business.  Tell that to the thousands of small and online businesses who’ve seen their customer base grow as a result of solid social media campaigns.

So for the skeptics out there, and those who’ve embraced social media, here are a few tips to get the most out of your social networking efforts.

Find Your Target Audience’s Preferred Network.

Do you provide business-to-business product or services?  Chances are that if you’re marketing a b2b solution, you’re not going to captivate your potential audience through Facebook.  Look for groups, industry magazines, forums and trade shows, or relevant associations that will give you an avenue with clients, referrals, and prospects.  LinkedIn is a great place to find groups of like-minded business people who are looking for product like yours.

If your clients are average internet users and not businesses, you may have a better chance marketing on Facebook, through a series of organic and paid posts that up your EdgeRank and build brand community.

The Elevator Pitch is Dead – Work on Your “Twit”Pitch.

Brevity has been built right into Twitter – and because of that, attention spans may be shorter.  Consider this when thinking up your pitch strategy, and don’t be afraid to get a little creative.   You need something that will grab your client’s attention, but you only have a few seconds to do it.  This is why we say the “Elevator Pitch is Dead”.

Some great examples of Twitpitches are:

@hackycatapp: “Hackycat. It’s like hackysack but with cats.” – The pitch is for an iOS game, and the pitch is dead on.

@42goals‎: “A simple tool for tracking personal goals and daily activities”

@garmz: “Enable fashion talent. You design fashion, we provide the rest.”

Create a Connection.

One of the biggest complaints in social is a lack of engagement.  Engagement should be handled in one of two ways.  Ideally, you’ll create compelling content that motivates users to respond because your content triggered some visceral feeling.  More often than not, this is not the case – especially if you’re in the habit of creating content for content’s sake, or if all your messages are a sales pitch.  Put your best message out there – and focus on thoughtful, but not continual/needy contact.   Remember, your agenda isn’t the point of networking through social media channels.  The point is to create connections, to engage those connections, and to gain collaboration, not just another sale.  This is especially important in business-to-business networking where your point of contact probably has 20 pitches flooding their email each day.

You’ll need to be crafty with your content if you’re a new business on the web – your authority is based on your content and connections.

Overall, be yourself, and find a way to humanize your business. 

Got any tips for networking through social?

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