Maura Yost must have been born with a BlackBerry in her hand. As a 20-something IT professional, she navigates Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites with the ease typical of Generation Y. Recently I asked Maura to share some of her tips from the 5+ years she’s been involved in social networking. Her insights are relevant for business owners and others who want to build their social media network. Here’s what Maura had to say:
My virtual social network eclipsed my reality-based social network years ago. I joined Facebook in 2004, MySpace and Linked-In in 2005 and Four Square in 2008. I use Google Picasa to share my pictures and tag friends; I connect with other technical consultants through IT Toolbox and have used Yahoo Groups to do anything from donate old furniture to coordinate fund raising. After graduating from college in 2004, expanding my existing social network to the business world was a natural step. Here are my tips for taking advantage of existing virtual networks for your business:
- Expand your virtual network by searching online for business-focused groups in your geographic area. Yahoo, AOL and MeetUp.com each have networking groups for small business owners, entrepreneurs and business strategy.
- Use search engines such as Google or Bing to find other sites facilitating conversation among people in your industry. My personal experience searching for IT-focused business sites has always been beneficial and I’ve learned a lot from participating in conversations.
- Research your questions using specific language in your searches. It is more likely that you will find a site with users of your skill level and experience when you use the most detail queries. Specific searches are the easiest way to find other people with similar questions willing to share their experiences.
- Take advantage of larger networking sites, such as Linked-In to maintain relationships with colleagues, sales representatives or general business contacts.
- Maintain an up-to-date profile on all sites you’ve joined. Include specific details about your business so your profile will pop up when other users are searching for your services and experience.
- Respond when you are contacted by other users regardless of how they contact you. Building your network does not necessarily mean making a sale from every contact. Friendly, quick responses will build a good reputation whether you are responding via a message board or directly with email.
My social, business and informational networks replace the Rolodex of years past. The technical platforms I subscribe to give me immediate access to a broad audience, a means to communicate efficiently, and a constant connection with my business network.
Continue the discussion. How have you built your social media network? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section.
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