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Business Socializing 101

Socializing for businesses is becoming at least as important as it is for individuals. What I refer to as “socializing” is effective usage of the available social media and online tools.

In order to make the most of social media, a company must have clear goals. A goal will help you to keep your focus and to use the available tools efficiently to work for your particular requirements. Without focus and a clear definition of what you are aiming for, you can easily lose a lot of time jumping from one link to another and getting nowhere. It is a good idea to limit the amount of time you spend promoting your business online so that you spend your time effectively with the right balance.

I am a big follower of LinkedIn and currently participate in tens of networks on various topics from books to embedded hardware and software development. The benefits of LinkedIn go well beyond expanding your existing networks of people. Recently, I was sent a complimentary copy of a technical book that a fellow LinkedIn user did not need anymore. In order to receive that book, all I needed to do was write a couple of lines to indicate my interest. From a business perspective, besides expanding your existing network, you can use LinkedIn to create groups for your particular niche interest.

Forums are great places to exchange ideas on specific topics where you can get expert opinion. You should remember that making a contribution is at least as important as getting information in any forum. Therefore, try to answer questions from others to provide assistance where you can, and share your knowledge and experience as much as possible. Active contributions made by the users are the cornerstones of a popular forum. The more popular a forum is, the better it can help your business. Provision of feedback and making contributions also increase your exposure on the forums and allow you to establish a base of followers.

From personal experience, I found forums also give a great opportunity to read about alternative solutions to a particular problem. I see forums as “organic” sources of information that expand and evolve. Therefore, it is beneficial to pay a visit to your selected forums every so often to see what is new. Also, getting automatic email notifications on topics that you are interested in will save you time while keeping you up-to-date.

The Internet provides access to a global market at our fingertips. This factor alone is a huge benefit for businesses. When combined with tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, marketing a product, an idea, or a solution becomes much easier with the increased exposure online. In layman terms, the key idea is to increase the exposure of what you are trying to sell by mentioning it in different places and getting other people to talk about it as much as possible.

When you add Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into the mix, you can further increase your chances of selling your product by improving your ranking on popular search engines such as Google. I must highlight that putting a lot of effort into SEO is far less important than actually creating solid content that provides useful information. At the end of the day, a solid content will always be better appreciated by the target audience.

Creating blogs about your business and products is a great way to do marketing and to get feedback from potential clients. Most comments you receive from interested parties will actually provide you with at least one tip to improve your business or product in some way. Depending on how your blogs are structured, it may be possible to attract the attention of investors and potential partners. It is also important to create links between your blogs and other social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Most online businesses ask you to register in order to collect your email address. A collection of email addresses provides a great way to reach out to many potential clients with a single email. If you plan to use this method, always respect the privacy of your registered users and do not disclose their emails to third parties or bombard them with spam. Too much of anything is bad for you, and this also applies to frequent promotional emails. If you fail to strike a healthy balance with the volume and the frequency of your promotional emails, this can do more harm than good to your business.

Conveying information visually is always more effective than providing a piece of text. That is why we often see video content on almost any topic these days. This strategy is particularly effective if you are describing the features of a product you want to sell. When people actually see a product in action, they usually have more confidence in it than when you are just talking or writing about it. Video content gives you this edge. I often visit YouTube in order to watch technical tutorials on research topics as well as new products. If you have never prepared a video content for your business before, I strongly recommend that you watch a few sample videos on YouTube first for insight into how to do it right.

As with most things in life, persistence, patience, and commitment are the key prerequisites to success in improving your business with online tools. Although most people will agree to the usefulness of social media and online tools for businesses, not many will actually be doing it. My suggestions here are not exhaustive. If you have creative ways to use social media and online tools for business purposes, please share them in the comments below.

13 comments on “Business Socializing 101

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    May 9, 2012

    I like to see the top execs in companies presenting information on their products.   It gives the audience great insight into the strength behind the company eg.  are the leaders BSers, technical gurus, marketing whizzes or solid stalwarts of industry etc.  In that respect social networking is a double edged sword but should be encouraged by the shareholders to ensure the company is well run.

  2. t.alex
    May 9, 2012

    I would see websites like linkedin as more of personal marketing/resume than to market your company or products. People wont look for new products via social network sites right? And of course there is some possibility of confidential information leaked out to competitors (in some cases, some companies require customers to sign NDA beforehand). I think improving SEO is important as people will seach anything via seach engines.

  3. Jay_Bond
    May 9, 2012

    I think Linkedin is a great place for marketing when it comes to businesses and individuals in the field. The connections made there seem to have many benefits for learning more about specific fields, job openings or finding other businesses that might offer services or products that you need.

  4. Cryptoman
    May 9, 2012

    I do agree that LinkedIn is a powerful platform when it  comes to networking.

    You can use this platform in many different ways. One way I find it useful is to find out about new companies that may be of interest to me regarding work and future opportunities. This is particularly effective is you are a member of a group that has many people from sectors of interest to you. For example, if you are a professional working in a specialised field such as audio equipment, becoming a memner of a LinkedIn group called “Audio professionals” will allow you to obtain a list of companies from that particular sector which is always a useful resource in my opinion.

     

  5. ahdand
    May 9, 2012

    Where do you think things went wrong ? Do you think socializIng business activities will boost the core functionalities ?

  6. Cryptoman
    May 9, 2012

    Hi nimantha.d

    Business socializing can be an effective “enabler” for businesses. It can also act as a channel to optimise, refine, and advance the core functionalities of a business. Furthermore, by using the collective intelligence that networking brings, business decision-making can be simplified via social media.

     

  7. Anand
    May 10, 2012

    If you plan to use this method, always respect the privacy of your registered users and do not disclose their emails to third parties or bombard them with spam.

    @Dr. Cagri, very informative post.  I am glad that you highlighted the need for privacy of the registered users. These days people are concerned about the security because social sites like FB doesn't give importance to it. I really hope social sites will change this attitude or else people will be forced to move away from social sites.

  8. Anand
    May 10, 2012

    I think improving SEO is important as people will seach anything via seach engines.

    @t.alex, no doubt search engine optimisation (SEO) is very important marketing tool but using linkedin as marketing tools is not a bad idea at all. Although I do agree with your opinion that People wont look for new products via social network sites but they do spend lot of time on linkedin and thus you have very chance that your product will catch their attention.

  9. ahdand
    May 10, 2012

    Yes LinkedIn is good but what's the success ratio of LinkedIn along with business profitability ?

  10. Cryptoman
    May 10, 2012

    @nimantha

    Unfortunately, I do not have quantitative data at hand to be able to answer this question. I am not sure whether such information would be publicly available anyways. This type of information would have significant commercial value for companies who are looking into deploying social media for boosting their profits. I think one needs to look at LinkedIn as a potential channel that is out there waiting to be used creatively. One thing is for sure: it cannot do any harm to try to use it effectively. The amount of difference it can make to your business depends on your level of committment to it plus how well you can connect the dots that are made available by LinkedIn.

     

    @ anadvy

    Privacy is indeed an important factor that is often overlooked in social media. The bad news is ignoring privacy can potentially backfire and work against you. Sender of a promotional email obviously believes in the usefulness of the content. However, this can be perceived as spam for many recipients. The trick for the sender is to be selective with the target recipients. In other words, the sender needs to wear the shoes of the recipient before hitting the 'send' button. Nobody likes being pestered and bombarded with spam and it can rub many people the wrong way. Obviously, no matter how many millions of emails I receive on a product, I will not but it unless I need/interested in it. As a mattter of fact, if I am overwhelmed with email on a product I actually need, I often look for alternatives that do not bother me as much. That is the type of customer reaction and lost business that nobody needs.

     

  11. ahdand
    May 29, 2012

    Well yes those are sensitive data but my worry is that the hype created by LinkedIn is not well maintained upto now.

  12. DR ARZU TUNCER
    June 6, 2012

    I personally prefer to use online education system to back up my lectures. Reaching students through youtube tutorial videos help them to focus more effectively on new technical subjects. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHffw9YEcc0).   I also benefit from tutorial videos in improving my teaching skills. Therefore I follow the same method with Dr Tanriover in my professional academic works.

  13. ahdand
    July 14, 2012

    If it works fine then no issue from my end as well becasue I also feel you need social networking to be linked with Business.

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