There are numerous social networking services that enable people to make invaluable business connections – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp. The list goes on. Each is particularly useful when it comes to connecting with people, but the value lies not so much in what website we use to connect with people, but who we connect with, how we connect with them, and whether or not we are able and willing to connect with our connections’ connections.
Each of these sites enables a user to upload contacts from his or her email account and from other sources. If the list of email addresses cannot be directly uploaded from a particular source, this information can always be added to the contact list of an email account and then transferred to the networking site.
This is useful, as these networking sites indicate who is using the service and encourage you to connect with existing contacts. In fact, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook all recommend their users to add people to their Friends list based on the quantity of mutual friends.
Once the network has been established and the connections made, the next logical step is to expand, expand expand. If some connections are good, more are better, regardless of the apparent quality thereof – you may be surprised what someone who seems to be the least vital link within your social chain may have to offer or who they may know. You would also do well to seek people outside of your area with whom you share common ideas and interests, as this will only expand the market for your enterprise. “Up until , I had spent the better part of the previous 15 years in the electric sign industry,” recalls Craig Jamieson, a blogger with thirty-five years of business-to-business sales experience. “After 10 years of management and ownership positions, I chose to close out the last 5 years of this section of my life as an independent sales contractor on a commission only basis. My marketing efforts were based 100% on referrals. I received these referrals from commercial realtors, general contractors, commercial developers, and architects. Today, I would be able to take a free tool like SocialBro, enter in the keywords “boise architect”, and with a few clicks follow every architect in the valley who has a presence on Twitter. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.”
What makes social networking sites so useful for finding and managing personal connections is that they have unique tools for doing exactly that. With one keystroke, you can subscribe to all the people on one Twitter connection’s list, individual privacy settings notwithstanding. You can also find lists of employees or top customers among your competitors’ Twitter followers. Following these people can be both fun and rewarding. On Facebook, you can subscribe to certain people’s updates without actually friending them.
It is also good idea to scrutinize the social networking sites to see where the greatest number of best possible contacts can be found. Once you learn who your existing contacts are talking to, introduce yourself and get acquainted. Don’t be shy – because you share friends and acquaintances in common with these people, the odds are that you share common interests as well. Just make courteous and amiable overtures, and chances are you will make a good first impression.