Today's Guest Blog Post is by Paul Grabowski. Paul is a nationally recognized leader in the legal marketing arena and has successfully guided several law firm's business development and marketing efforts. (NOTE: Paul and I worked together several years ago in the marketing department at Andrews Kurth LLP)
Using Social Media for Networking –
So Easy Even an Introvert Can Do It.
The new emphasis in the world of individual professional business development is the use of social media to build ones networking presence. Sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook currently dominate the world of social media while literally hundreds of others are available with more sites and the development of applications (apps) by companies and businesses appearing on an ever increasing basis. In fact, according to Grabstats.com, the use of social media has grown 93 percent since 2006. Yet, there are still those who have not jumped on the bandwagon of connecting online or are not using the power of this medium to its fullest extent.
Most business professionals have come to understand that having a presence online is important. Company websites abound with individual profiles, v-cards, and the latest information on business deals, educational backgrounds and the obligatory memberships in professional/civic organizations. Yet, these pages are static and unless the individual or someone in the marketing department takes the time to update, the information is not pushed forth to those who would find it interesting or pertinent. On the flip side, for those seeking new opportunities, demonstrate an expertise on a particular subject, connecting to other professionals in a similar industry or recognizing the latest company success, social media has become a gold mine as an easy, yet effective medium through which to spread the word.
While LinkedIn just surpassed 100 million users, a casual review of many professional profiles reveals that outside of posting the most generic biographical and contact information, many users are not using this medium to its fullest potential. Reasons for this abound from not enough time to discounting the importance, but in reality many business professionals are still not comfortable utilizing these sites.
For the extrovert, networking and posting the latest personal or business successes comes easy. Think about the last business conference or cocktail reception you attended and there is always someone there who you think can naturally “work a room”. They easily introduce themselves, talk about their company, its successes and strike up a conversation. At the same conference there are those who dread the idea of attending the social hour and would rather retreat to the confines of their hotel room under the guise of having “work to catch up on” or “need to return some phone calls.” For those introverts, social media can be an opportunity to spread the word about the latest personal and professional successes, post about the conference or whatever else they find might be of interest to their target audience and ultimately build their professional presence.
So the question becomes, how does one – particularly an introvert – utilize social media effectively? In reality, there is a simple plan that can be followed that does not require a great deal of time or effort.
Complete and Update Your Online Profile – First and foremost, take the time to complete and/or update your social media profile. Take a look at others in and out of your network that you believe are utilizing this medium effectively and use it as a guide. Sites such as LinkedIn have made it easy for its users by indicating what parts of your profile are complete and which need attention. When you have something to add, however mundane – change it. Once completed, it should not take more than five minutes of your time to update your profile on a frequent basis but this should be done no less than every six months.
Find Friends and Business Associates First – For those who are new to social networking or don’t have many connections, take baby steps and find people you know first. Once your profile is complete, the social media sites will provide you with lists of people you may know based on the high schools and colleges you attended, previous work experience, etc. It’s always easiest to connect with people you know before you reach out to others. Going forward, on a frequent basis scan the list of “people you may know” and determine if reaching out to connect would help professionally. Remember, just because you request a connection does not mean they will accept your invitation, but your goal should be to make at least one to three connections every week.
Find Groups with Similar Interests – With over 100 million users, there are literally thousands of groups on LinkedIn. Additionally, whether through Facebook, Orkut, or any other social media site, new groups and memberships continue to develop. Take five minutes each week to search for those groups within your chosen social media platform for those in a similar industry, profession or other personal and professional interest. Keep in mind that becoming a member is only part of the process. Those who participate on a frequent basis soon are recognized for their expertise on a particular subject or topic. This can lead to further networking and business opportunities.
Become a Thought Leader – The beauty of social media is that you can reach everyone in your network just by posting one piece of information. Once a week, attempt to post an article or other newsworthy item that would be of interest to your group of associates. This is an easy way to reach out with a value proposition and stay top of mind.
Social networking allows even those most introverted business professional an opportunity to network and build a formidable presence with colleagues and business associates alike. The suggestions above take no more than five to ten minutes a week, however obtaining just one new piece of business through this effort is a small price to pay and can only lead to further opportunities.
Paul S. Grabowski, Esq. has over 20 years experience in law firms, Fortune 500, private facility management, and professional and collegiate sports marketing and business development. He has been recognized for his efforts in building effective marketing and business development campaigns for businesses and individuals and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.