Social Media Strategies for Networking Professionals

by Sonia Stringer and Jeff Price

By now you have likely heard the "buzz" about Facebook and Twitter, and how many networking professionals are using these and other social media tools to grow their businesses. With millions of people plugging into these websites every day, it's easier than ever to find qualified leads, sell your products and recruit savvy professionals into your team.

No matter where you live in the world (or how much you may have struggled in the past to keep your appointment calendar full) you can now easily connect with hundreds (even thousands) of ideal prospects DAILY, without leaving the comfort of your home office!

But be forewarned—there are a few caveats when using social media tools, or you risk wasting a lot of time (and generating few results) online. In coaching our clients through the social media curve, we help them design a simple, effective social media plan.

Applying the following 3 simple strategies when using Facebook and other tools will greatly leverage your time and efforts and help you generate exciting results.

Step #1: Pick a Target—Discover and Focus on Your Most Ideal Prospect

Although there are a variety of people who can benefit from your products and business opportunity—trying to sell or recruit EVERYONE makes your marketing efforts very unfocused and ineffective (think "jack of all trades, master of none"). Instead, we encourage you to narrow your approach and focus on a specific slice of the vast pie of prospects available.

Which people benefit the most from your products? Who would you love to partner with in your business? Stay-at-home moms? Corporate professionals? Teachers, nurses, doctors or chiropractors? Baby boomers? College kids? Choosing to niche yourself in this way may feel counterintuitive (and raise fears that you may "miss out" on business opportunities), but the exact opposite is true.

By focusing on a more specific target market you stop wasting time chasing people who aren't interested. You position yourself as a "big fish in a small pond" and rapidly become a recognized expert. Most importantly, all the effort you put into building your business can snowball, making it easier to gain referrals and create new sales within your rapidly expanding network. You also become extremely knowledgeable of the key issues and desires of your target market, making it much easier to sponsor and sell to them.

Of course, if you happen to connect with prospects outside your target market along the way, you can certainly prospect them, too! However, when it comes to success with social media, aiming your marketing efforts towards a particular demographic (instead of at the entire world) will generate easier and better results over time. More focus = more momentum = more money in your pocket.

Step #2: Be Strategic—Learn How to Find and Connect with Massive Groups of Your Ideal Customers

The most immediate payoff for picking a target market is that, once you know who you are looking for, finding and connecting with these prospects becomes a lot more obvious.

The true power of social media tools is they provide easy and instant access to very large groups of super-qualified leads. Imagine walking into a networking event of 3.5 million stay-at-home mom's? That is exactly what you'll find when you connect with Oprah's Twitter group, and with a click of your mouse you can connect with any one of these fabulous prospects.

Do you want to recruit business professionals who have been laid off or hit hard by the economy, and are looking for a Plan B? LinkedIn has 50 million of them plugged into one website. You can easily track down and connect with thousands of CEO's, executives, HR professionals, as well as lawyers, nurses, teachers, chiropractors or virtually any kind of professional imaginable.

Gaining such easy access to very specific groups of people is virtually impossible in any other kind of networking environment. Instead of prospecting one-on-one, social media tools give you the opportunity to prospect hundreds or thousands—and leverage your time and efforts like never before.

Step #3: Be Savvy—Communicate in Ways That Attract (Rather Than Repel) New Customers and Business Partners

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a pond, and there are hundreds of fish (or in this case, ideal prospects) swimming around you. To land any of them, you need some enticing bait on the end of your line, something that will grab their attention and attract them to you.

The same situation exists in the social media world. You can easily connect and create relationships with hundreds (even thousands) of wonderful prospects—but to land them as customers and new business partners requires certain skills, and a particular kind of "bait."

The "bait" in this case involves how you interact and communicate with the people in your social media network. The most common mistake we see people make is to hop onto Facebook (or other site) and start heavily promoting their products and business. Taking a "hard sell" approach simply doesn't work in these environments. You will turn people off and lose your valuable connections. Social networking requires you to be more subtle and more skilled at leading conversations that draw people to you.

For example, we help our clients identify their prospect's most significant, emotional "hot buttons" and then craft conversations and messages that speak to what is most important to their target market. This approach allows them to not only attract more people, but be able to convert these relationships into new customers and business partners—all in a way that is elegant, respectful and very effective.

Imagine having the perfect bait on the end of your hook and watching streams of fish swimming towards, hungry to have what you've got. That's what using this strategy can do for you.

Implementing these 3 key strategies when using Facebook and other networks will rocket your results and save your enormous amounts of time and frustration. Being more strategic in your approach with social media will ensure you leverage the real power of these tools—and set you up to build a rapidly expanding business locally, nationally or even globally.

Be sure to join our upcoming webinar. You will learn the most important keys to social media success, and leave with some simple strategies you can use immediately to generate new customers and sales.


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