Social Networking: Where giving starts the receiving process
By Richard Robbins
The unprecedented growth of the social media industry is nothing short of amazing. While the statistics are certainly mind-boggling: Twitter now has 75 million accounts, more than 60 million people have become ‘LinkedIn’, and Facebook currently boasts an excess of 350 million users across the globe! I have to wonder how many users, especially business users, honestly and truly get it. How many of us are still shrugging our shoulders saying “I know I’m supposed to be on Facebook but I’m still really not sure why.”
The success stories are out there nevertheless; People really are finding ways to effectively leverage sites like Facebook as a valuable part of their overall business generation and marketing strategy.
And yet, for every fan of social media, you’re bound to find at least a handful of naysayers who can’t seem to understand what it’s all for. (According to The Nielsen Company, 60% of Twitter users abandon their accounts within their first month of use).
Perhaps the reason that social media confounds so many people is because they’ve yet to fully embrace the golden rule of online social networking – – giving starts the receiving process. Consider this definition of networking: A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest. Make note of two key words – supportive and sharing.
Technology aside, online social networking differs very little from the traditional, face-to-face networking most of us have participated. If you’ve ever joined and maintained a longstanding relationship with a BNI group or Chamber of Commerce, you know that the experience can be likened to gardening.
Networking (online or in person) takes consistent time, attention and effort as you delicately drop your seeds and thoughtfully tend to the soil until small shoots begin to poke through the dirt.
Whether online or in person, great reciprocal relationships depend vitally on what you give. You make introductions and graciously share your network. You contribute relevant business knowledge and experiences and look for ways to support the other businesses in your group. Attend a networking function expecting to immediately walk away with a handful of new leads or clients and you’ll be sorely disappointed. Your fellow networkers can sniff out ‘a taker’ from a mile away. Set the intention to be a giver and everything turns around.
Online social networking is no different as proven by a handful of components designed specifically to assist you in being a giver. Take LinkedIn for example. Ever notice the ‘recommendations’ function? This gives you the opportunity to write a short testimonial about someone in your LinkedIn network. Such endorsements could potentially be reviewed by hundreds, even thousands of potential clients. LinkedIn also gives users the ability to make introductions by forwarding an introduction message to a relevant contact in their network.
On Twitter you can retweet someone’s post, which gives that user exposure to all of your followers, potentially increasing the size of their network. You might also have noticed Twitter users utilizing their 140 characters to recommend following other users, referencing other people’s website, and quoting other users.
Effective tweeters rarely sing their own praises, rather, they use the site as a platform to share and recommend quality information, resources, and contacts. Lastly, Facebook offers a ‘Suggest to Friends’ function that encourages users to spread the word amongst their network about businesses they are fans of.
Clearly, social media was designed to nurture reciprocal gains. If you’re only using these websites to toot your own horn, you’re not only missing the point, but you’re probably missing out on most of the benefits as well.
Shift your strategy away from self promotion and consider applying the 80/20 rule to your social media efforts by devoting 80% of your efforts to signing others’ praises. The social media revolution is all about sharing, connecting and contributing. Build your business and brand, on- and off-line, with the intention of giving and you’ll receive more back than you’ve ever imagined.
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