Do You Need a Social Networking Coach?

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A good friend asked me how to get started with social media as a business networking tool.  While it isn’t rocket science, it can feel a little overwhelming at the beginning.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1.  Figure out your personal brand, i.e. how you want to position yourself.  What are you an expert in, and where do you add value? It might also be helpful to ask yourself:  how would I want someone to find me using google or Linked in?  What keywords would they be searching?  Make sure those keywords exist in your Linked in profile, and on every platform you use to communicate about yourself…even your business cards!

2.  Create a comprehensive Linked in profile, and set up your Linked in network, first by focusing on connecting with 1st degree contacts, and also by gathering (and giving) recommendations.  Then look to build that network over time. Remember to update your status periodically, and stay in touch with your network by responding to their status updates occasionally.

3. Use the same keywords that describe you on Linked in to set up a Google alert.  Use this newsfeed to generate ideas for blogposts, articles or tweets on topics where you can add value with your point of view.

4.  Join industry groups on Linked in or elsewhere online, and become a part of the conversation when you have something to add.  At the same time, don’t ignore the analog world!  Online networking is great, but it is no substitute for meeting new people in your industry or locale.  Join a networking group and become active, don’t just be a wallflower.

5.  Blogs are great for generating original content for other platforms.  Think about creating a blog to share your expertise, your unique point of view, or to provide a resource for others.

6.  Be generous of spirit: as you develop your network, approach every new person you meet with the mindset of ” how can I help you”?  As you engage with new connections in a friendly way, business relationships can take root.  This is especially true on Twitter…nothing is more of a turn-off than someone going on non-stop about themselves and their business agenda.

7.  Rome wasn’t built in a day…start with one platform, and then strategically add others, integrating as you go along.  Note what others in your industry do successfully in each platform. It never hurts to take a page out of someone else’s playbook, when it comes to figuring out what works.  By the same token, not every business belongs in every medium. See what doesn’t work, and focus your efforts around activities where they will bear the most fruit.

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
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