I thought I would share some thoughts on what the heck social networking is. Believe it or not, some folks have zero idea. I'm attempting to shed some light on what it is, how it works and why you NEED to get involved if your in the car biz'.
Lots of people ask about online social networking and what it's all about. Why do it? Isn't it a waste of time? As a sales professional, there are lots of reasons to do it and it's certainly not a waste of time. In fact, it may be paramount to your survival.
Before we get into modern, online social networking, a bit about professional networking "old-school" is worth discussing. Not so long ago, real-life, person-to-person, professional networks were common. They still are today. Think Chamber of Commerce, professional lunch groups, and other professional referral organizations. They are everywhere. For many, being a member of a professional network is strictly business, for others it's strictly social, for many it's both. If you went to your local chamber of commerce meeting you may find that members consider their involvement key to their success. Why? It's simple, participating is how they become known. For most folks in business, becoming known is key to their survival. Additional credibility and notoriety is also gained - more good things if your in business (salespeople , you are in business).
Today, many of these organizations have been replaced by online social networking. Yes, many still exists but the benefits of doing things online far-outweigh the negatives. Facebook™
are the largest,
most popular social networking organizations in the world. Each is different but they do have some things in common. You need to understand each network and how they operate. You need to be involved in each one. Scary thoughts I know but the truth is, our world is changing and you can embrace the change or run from it, up to you. Those that embrace it will increase their chances of survival in the business world exponentially. Those that run, who knows?
operate on the premise of answering one simple question, "What are you doing right now." Answering this simple question occasionally (some people are addicts and update constantly) allows anyone in your network to get a glimpse of what your doing at that very moment. From a practical perspective, Facebook™
do things quite a bit differently but the premise is the same - update your "friends" or "followers" with what you are doing. In a relatively short amount of time, they will "know you" better than they ever could have before. You will also get to know them better, exactly what you want.
is a bit different. LinkedIn™
is a network of people that have provided professional information. Look at it like this, it's hundreds of millions of resumes all in one place. It's not exactly like that but close. Member profiles are mostly related to current and past professional information such as work experience. Some people behind the profiles are associated with you, directly, some indireclty but all share a common theme, everyone is networking. If you need to find a professional contact, use LinkedIn™
. If you want to learn more about someones professional background, find them on LinkedIn™
. This information is hugely valuable when building rapport or having a conversation with someone. The more you know about them, the better. The more they know about you, the better (I hope).
Generally speaking, here are the basic steps needed to beging building your online relationships. Create a Facebook™
account, a Twitter™
account, and a LinkedIn™
account. This costs nothing (unlike the chamber of commerce). On a regular basis, invite people you know to "connect" with you on each platform. The best way to do this is to put an invitation message in the footer of every outgoing email you send. Something like.. "Join me on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn." Each of these could be a link to your profile in each network. If the person reading your email is already involved in any of the networks, they will know what to do. Don't worry, just invite them. Next, answer the "what are you doing question" in each network. The updated status messages are important. Without them, nothing happens. Update your status at least a few times a week. Example: "David is delivering a new Accord" or "David is learning about the new inventory that just arrived" or "David is out to lunch with his neighbor." Updates should not always be business related. You are not making sales pitches, you are building relationships, you are making friends! Here's a secret, tell the truth. Just update with what you are doing, it's amazing how many of your associates will begin to "know you." Over time, you WILL get to know these people and they WILL get to know you. The more you know about each other, the stronger your relationship. The stronger your relationship, the better.
Consider the difference between a weekly luncheon meeting with the "regular gang" and a online update of your status. Consider the time, the money, the difficulty in being a member of "the chamber." Now, consider how easy it could be to create the same networking effect online - for FREE. The potential is incredible. Online networking is like going to the chamber meeting once a week, only better, much better. After one chamber meeting you probably didn't know many members. After a year or so of chamber meetings you could know the entire group. Chances are, by then, someone in the group has made a purchase from you, or sent you a referral - get it? Networking is networking, in person or online but online is exponentially more powerful.
Hopefully this gave you a basic overview of how social networking on the web all ties together and why it is important. We strongly urge you to get involved and WORK hard to figure it out. It's not difficult if you embrace it. In a very short amount of time it will become "how we socialize" whether you understand it or not.