"The What, How, Where"

Social Media Best Practices

Posts Tagged ‘B2B Social Media

Offline Meets Online, How to Use Your Social Networking Skills in Real Life Situations

leave a comment »

As much as business connections have moved online with the advent of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, “Face to Face” is still King when making new connections. But how do you leverage both in this Web 2.0 world? In this post I will examine best practices.

Recently over drinks I was chatting with a seasoned salesperson who eloquently informed me that “It’s never been so easy, yet so hard to do business”. The environment we’re in has created a double-edged sword. Through digital technology (blogs, social networks and websites) it’s never been easier to understand who our customers are and what they need. However, this has resulted in the bar being raised with customers who are more demanding, impolite and curt than ever before.

But as much as things are changing at a rapid pace, networking events are still very relevant. They may have evolved, but have not completely changed in that they continue to be noisy, crowded and full of libations.  So how do you make the most of them?

1-    Before the event

With many events powered by MeetUp, Eventbrite and Facebook it has become easier to see who will be attending. Not only does this give you validation as to whether it’s worthwhile, but also provides you with great insights as to whom you need to be in contact with. Use social networks to secure information on who they are.

 

2-    During the event

For most, meeting new people is one of life’s daunting challenges. If there’s someone who I find important that I might not know, I like to use my smartphone apps to locate their LinkedIn Profile. To dive deeper as to what they’re thinking I use Google Search to discover what they’re saying on Twitter (Google provides better results on finding the person than Twitter itself). Think this is intrusive? Within a few years facial recognition technology will allow you take a picture of a person and bring up their entire social graph.

The good news is that age-old rules still apply when making a new acquaintance.  A couple of points I find that work for me are:

A-    When the moment presents itself (do not interrupt an ongoing conversation), introduce yourself with what’s known as an  “Open Face”. This can be described as the warm feeling you get when you see a baby or puppy for the 1st time; pass that happiness on to the other person.  Smile, but be natural.

B-    If possible, shake that person’s hand and introduce yourself. Say something nice about them or their company, but be genuine.

C-    Be generally interested in what that person has to say and add value.

D-   When speaking about your own business, convey a one or two sentence value proposition that will instantly make that person understand what you do.

E-    Don’t talk at length about your business. Talk about their business or topic of importance to them.  Remember, that everyone wants to feel important and special.

F-    Don’t overstay your welcome. If that prospect is the decision maker, ask for a business card and leave with value; offer to do something for that person (send a case study or client example)

 

3-    After the event

For prospects you find want to build a business relationship with, your follow-up is key.  If you want to really stand out, a personal handwritten note will wow any executive, but a brief e-mail that is followed by a LinkedIn invite or Twitter follow is customary these days. Think of the e-mail like an actual handwritten note; but keep it short, sweet and to the point. Mention how you met, what you discussed, attach follow-up items (articles or case studies) and outline next steps. If you feel your impression was strong enough, by all means and ask for a follow-up meeting.  These executives are inundated with e-mails all day long, so make sure you have a strong subject line. I like to cite my own name as well as the value I’m offering in the e-mail “Derek Reese from XYZ, Case Study on Small Business”. Avoid terms like “Hi, Opportunity and Savings” because these are triggers for your e-mail to wind up in their spam folder.

If you think this company is a strong target, you might want to set up an RSS feed from their news page or Google alert, these will give you key insights into changes in the company.

Most importantly! Add value when you communicate in the future.

If you have any direct questions, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Advertisements

Written by Derek Reese

July 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Socializing Your Employees: How to help your employees be better online business ambassadors

leave a comment »

Best Buy has their employees engage in Twitter streams. IBM and Intel are encouraging blog participation. Big business is embracing social media in a big way. So what does this mean for you as a small business owner? How can you leverage your best assets–your employees– to spread the word about your brand without damaging the reputation of your business?

Whether you like it or not, your employees are engaged in social media activities tied to your business. If they have a LinkedIn professional profile or include work history on their Facebook page, they’re already representing your business online. While this might be of concern, there are advantages by having more feet on the ground spreading the message of your brand.

For example, your employees can leverage their social graph by Tweeting your blog posts, answer questions related to your business on Quora, or connect to the right decision makers on LinkedIn.

Communicate Expectations 

Imagine social media is at a cocktail party and your employees are there with current and prospective clients. What do you want your employees to say, and how can you use this medium to generate more business? Adrian Dayton, a social media consultant from Buffalo, NY, suggests encouraging those employees who are already good networkers to be more active, and emphasize the importance of relevancy. “Make sure your employees post comments people want to read.”

He advises having a transparent discussion with your employees about how everyone should behave online. Develop a working consensus on best practices, including how to act, where your business should participate, and what information should be conveyed back to you. Think of it almost like a storefront; how your employees behave in front of customers should be an example of how they should approach the digital environment.

Jaime Gracia, owner of Seville Government Consulting in Washington, DC, suggests taking it a step further by formalizing your expectations. He says that when an employee is identified as working for your organization it’s important to “set policies on how employees use social media and how they reference their employers on social sites.” You may want to create a best practices guide for your employees to reference.

In taking a look around the web, here are some helpful tips used by the world’s leading brands that can apply to any size business:

  • Be a good listener: Don’t sell your product, understand the needs of the community and provide value.
  • Respect the opinions of others and engage in a professional manner: Comes down to the golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated.
  • When in doubt, do not post: If you have reservations about what you’re writing, hold off and secure approval.
  • Be responsive and follow up quickly: Think of social media as real-time conversations, make sure you’re not only proactive, but respond back in a timely manner (within a few hours if possible).
  • Admit mistakes and be the first to respond to them: Because the Internet xis permanent, it’s best not to spin information. Admit you’re wrong; the community will respect you for this.
  • Always identify who you are and the company you represent: If you’re speaking on behalf of your employer make sure you acknowledge who you are, your role, and what your company does. This helps gain legitimacy in the conversation.
  • Stick with your area of expertise and provide a unique individual perspective: Comment only on issues you have the knowledge to speak Remember social media is about people, not companies.
  • Give credit where credit is due: Remember to protect confidential and proprietary information. It’s important to cite other sources, but also be cognizant of information that should not be released externally.

Getting Started 

Social media can be overwhelming for a small business owner, let alone their employees. Start small by encouraging your employees to tweet or share company blog posts and press releases. Another idea is to have employees connect with each other on social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter; that way you’re growing your sphere of influence. Set up team discussions related to this topic. Remember, social media shouldn’t just fall to you.

Don’t ask yourself whether it’s wise to have employees use social media, but ask about the risks for not participating. How is your competition taking advantage? What potential customers are you missing? How will potential customers understand what you’re about if they don’t know who’s working for you?

Derek Reese is a social media advocate who works with a variety of businesses on implementing their integrated marketing solutions, as well as consulting on social media best practices. Find him on LinkedIn and on Twitter.