This is a re-post of something I wrote for a company blog earlier this year. There’s been some abandonment of Facebook lately, but it still has some value if you’ve got the time. And if you need help setting up accounts, check out the Facebook and LinkedIn for Dummies videos on YouTube. No links to these videos as you want to make sure you’re looking at the latest version…
………Original Post Date: April 20th, 2010…….
Read an interesting article – I’m Your Friend, Fan and Follower. Where’s the Biz? The point was that building a social network account and expecting them to come was the wrong approach. It’s not the technology but how the technology facilitates relationship building.
You’re all ready attending conventions, chamber events and eating rubber chicken dinners to build your business network. Who’s got the time for this? You really only need an hour a week to maintain an online presence. But just a caveat – if you can’t even give it this much time, don’t do it. Not much looks worse than an abandoned social networking account.
Facebook is the ideal network for getting in touch with old friends locally or out of the area. The strategy here is like that advice they gave out in licensing class – let everyone know you’re in real estate. But think of Facebook in more social/personal terms than purely for business.
When you create your account, put what you do in your “About Me” section, the Info tab and mention your job now and then in your status updates. Put a link to the company website in your profile, too.
Next, you have to find some friends but you’ll be surprised how many will also find you. In your account settings, choose the option to be emailed about friend requests (and posts, invites and other activity if you want) and accept promptly. Log on about once a week – and if you have nothing to say, just comment on your friend’s activities.
If you do intend to mix the personal with business, be careful as to which groups you join or pages you become a fan of (and you now become a fan just by hitting the LIKE button). Avoid political or “marginal” topics that may be offensive to potential clients. And if you join any commercial real estate groups/pages beware of a new trend to have other fans/members try to befriend you to build up their “exposure.” That exposure means your home page will end up flooded with listings/marketing appeals. You can always HIDE posts from these people, but better to let the invitation sit in your INBOX (I never ignore friend requests – I keep them around just in case…).
In the old days, everyone needed a web page. Now, you need to be on LinkedIn because this is the one network where people are going to check you out professionally. Here you want to fill out your profile fully and link to your company. Look up colleagues, business and personal friends and send out invitations to connect.
Speaking of connections, make sure you don’t let others view them (there’s an option in account settings for this). Some will say that’s a bad idea since someone who’s checking you out might see someone they know among your connections and be more likely to contact you. But LinkedIn will show up to 3 levels of connections (if any) while they’re looking at your profile so it’s really not necessary.
You can get away with posting your status less often on LinkedIn but, like on Facebook, set your account to send email alerts for new connections and status reports. Comment on other people’s status reports now and then or post a work related status update of your own just to keep your name out there and to let people know you’re still open for business!
Where you can really leverage LinkedIn’s relationship building is by joining and participating (emphasis on the participation) in groups. Find some commercial real estate or other industry groups and get active in discussions. As you become a “regular” in the group, you might be asked to connect with other members. Or, you can ask for a connection to someone whose comments impress you. It’s a great B2B relationship builder but the jury is still out on lead generation.
Is it Working Yet?
One of the responses to the article gave a definition of a “social media” friend as someone they’d feel comfortable calling – or taking a call from. Doesn’t sound any different from any other networking event friend. So don’t let the technology get in the way of broadening your network outside where you live. And all the studies on this say you need to give it at least a year to see results.