Tag : networking

34: Facebook Tips for Entrepreneurs

Online NetworkingIf you read any number of the nation’s business magazines, you’d think that Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn could make your other marketing obsolete or at least archaic. As someone who has one of these open on my iPhone, laptop, and/or desktop about eight hours per typical day, I can tell you that you’ll need more than any or all of these silver bullets in your six shooter.

That said, you can use all of these for commercial purposes—each in a different role. Today, let’s look at Facebook and some pointers on how to get the most out of it.

Know why you use the ‘book.
If you’re looking to Facebook for free advertising, you’ll “get what you pay for.” Facebook can bring you clients and prospects, but you’ll find the greatest and most likely benefit to be the ability to build into the professional relationships you already have. You’ll get to know clients, vendors, and industry peers as people. When you show people you are interested in them for more than just the transaction, they are more likely to give the next transaction to you.

Facebook is one of several prime places to build a personal brand, maybe even the expert brand. Your character, personality, experience, and lifestyle reflect on your business. Environments like Facebook allow you to intentionally manage and broadcast your public personae.

Be “content generous.”
Just like in marriage, you’ll reap the greatest benefits when you give more than you take. If you want something out of Facebook, you need to add value to the environment. Post interesting articles and links—and tell people why you’re sharing. Show that you never stop learning, that you’re constantly trying to grow—and that you want others to join you on that journey. Subscribe to RSS feeds or magazines, so that you have a constant stream of ideas to share. You don’t have to know everything to be an expert; you just have to know where to get answers. If consumers see you as a source of good ideas and solutions, why wouldn’t they trust you with their professional challenges?

Share lots of encouraging, affirming, congratulatory comments on others’ content. Drop quick notes to tell folks you’re glad to know them, that you’re thinking of them, that they deserve the cool weekend or vacation they just lived. Let your professional contacts know that you think about them, even when you’re not working together.

Build Facebook fences.
Facebook includes a robust range of privacy settings. You can allow some people to see only your resumé-level information and others your most personal pictures (and several steps in between those extremes). You can determine the accessibility of specific photo albums or videos and who can see them. You can even choose specific people or groups of people you don’t want to see certain pictures. Your college days pictures are great fun with your frat brothers but probably not appropriate to show your largest client. Not everybody you invite or accept as a Facebook friend has to see everything you post. By setting audience boundaries, you can post with more freedom and personality—and be yourself—limiting only who can interact with specific content.

Predetermine your Facebook interaction.
Facebook is the new solitaire/mine sweeper, only guised in marketing clothes. You can easily tell yourself that you’re networking on Facebook, when you’re really just shirking work. So, just like any other social engagement, budget time for it. Then stick to that schedule. Facebook is only one networking environment; don’t let it infringe on other opportunities to build relationships. If you don’t want Facebook interrupting your productive hours, Facebook allows you to turn off some or all of the notifications it can send to your email box.

Many entrepreneurs check their Facebook feed in the morning after running through their email inbox and/or at the end of the day before they head home. My generation sifts through their RSS feeds and google notifications like our parents used to read the paper. Facebooking fits neatly into this segment of your day. Maybe it’s during breakfast or lunch for you, or maybe it’s a weekend appointment.

For me, Facebook is intrinsically woven throughout my day. Working in my basement cave, it’s a connection to the outside world, an environment for personal ministry, a break room with a water cooler, a year-long auctioneer convention without the suits and hotel room keys. I use it to enrich and secure the friendships I already have and to cultivate friendships from working relationships.

You can be successful without Facebook. Facebook just makes success a community benefit.

The more I buy into the journey of following Christ, the more I look to my interpersonal environments as ministry opportunities. I’ve even created environments or joined others in progress to add spiritual interactions in my life.

I’m not talking about church events. I mean white water and canoe trips, hiking and biking treks, hang gliding and caving adventures, breakfasts and dinners—even road trips. It’s sharing life, revealing where we are and where we’re going. When you bring Jesus with you and initiate spiritual conversations, you often have greater life impact than sitting in a church building.

Building into the lives of others brings life into your own. No surprise: that’s what Jesus said he came to do. “I came that they might have life and that more abundantly.”

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2009[/footer]

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