Realising the benefits of professional social networking

Realising the benefits of professional social networkingThere are so many benefits of social networking.  Personally, I love keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues.  I have recognised that for me it’s a great way to maintain contact with people.  Social networking is also a great way to maintain contact with my professional network to help maintain and build my business reputation by keeping reminders in the market about my areas of expertise.

More than a year ago I began running orientation to social media sessions for B2B companies as I found (and still find) that many businesses don’t understand the benefits of social media or how to use them.

More recently I’ve been engaged by a number of clients to run LinkedIn specific training sessions.  Many businesses now realise that significant benefits can be realised by better harnessing the professional contacts and networks that already exist within the business.

Some of the very simple suggestions I recommend to people when it comes to professional social networking are:
– keep your professional social networking professional – I keep friends on Facebook and my LinkedIn contacts professional only
– provide status updates on LinkedIn that add value to those contacts
o for example – business related blogs (like this one)
o news articles
o industry updates.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
– don’t spam your network by updating too frequently (personally I find that once a week is a good consistency – provided you have that much content)
– personal updates are better suited to more social forums, like my personal favourites Facebook and Twitter.

One area many people seem to overlook on LinkedIn is Groups.  While I find that individuals join a group most don’t understand the benefits from active engagement.  While LinkedIn is great to help you maintain contacts it is also ideal to extend this networking to include people you should know, but don’t yet.

There are lots of business benefits for social networking and while some, such as networking with people can be obvious, some of the less obvious benefits are also significant.  The top three I often hear are:
– attracting (and retaining) staff
– creating an environment for lead generation.

If your business isn’t engaging with social networking, and at the very least, if your sales team isn’t actively using LinkedIn on a daily basis then I encourage you to explore the opportunities.