Over the weekend, I was given the opportunity to teach a Social Media Workshop at a women’s networking event. When preparing for this, I really tried to hone in on the areas that would be most beneficial to the audience that I would be speaking to. This resulted in me really focusing on one of my favorite topics. Your Network = Your Net-worth.

As a successful entrepreneur and business owner, I am a firm believer that networking and building relationships is key to the success of any business. However, let’s be realistic. How many hours can your average person really commit to attending events, coffee dates and meetings every week? In addition, how are you building and maintaining relationships that are a result of your networking efforts?

For Example: If you attend a luncheon once a month, how are you staying connected until you meet again? If you run into an old colleague or friend at a coffee house and swap business cards, how are you following up? Coffee is great. Email is great. Phone calls are great. But this doesn’t keep you top of mind and can be time consuming.

I am a firm believer in the power of face-to-face networking, it is a proven and timeless business strategy. However, you must be making the most of these efforts.

So what can you do to maximize your time spent networking?

The answer is social media.

Social media is networking, just in a different forum. It can be used to connect with new faces, build relationships with those you meet offline and stay top of mind until your next encounter.

The best part? This can all be done from the comforts of your home or office, the scope of your reach is not limited and you can connect with the same quality of people more efficiently and in larger quantities, all while wearing your favorite pair of sweatpants.

So the question remains, how do I do this Allison? It’s simple, the same way you would if you were networking in person.

This Coaching Blog focuses on what it means to be social offline and how to carry that over to your online presence. So grab your favorite cocktail, throw on your sweats, kick back and get ready to learn how you can be the life of the party! 

Social Media vs. Social Networking 

Social Media is how we refer to the various media that people use to communicate online in a social way. Social Networking is a term I use to describe how people are interacting on these sites. 

I like to think of the web as a city. This helps me make sense of how to create and interact. Corporate websites are the store fronts on Main Street, Craigslist is like the bulletin board at the grocery store or library, eBay, a garage sale; Amazon, a superstore like Walmart, and mainstream media sites like the New York Times are the newspapers of the city. Chat rooms and forums are the pubs and saloons of the online world. You even have the proverbial wrong-side-of-the-tracks spots: the web’s adult entertainment and spam underbelly. 

If you follow my metaphor of the web as a city, then think of social media and how people interact as the cocktail parties of the city. Viewing the web as a city where social media platforms are the places where people congregate to have fun, can help you make sense of how to best use the tools of social media. 

How Do You Act In A Cocktail Party Situation?

Do you go into a large gathering filled with a few acquaintances and tons of people you do not know and shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”?

Do you go into a cocktail party and ask every single person you meet for a business card before you agree to speak with them?

Do you listen more than you speak?

Are you helpful, providing valuable information to people with no expectation of something tangible in return?
Do you try to meet every single person or do you have a few great conversations?
Or do you avoid the social interaction of cocktail parties all together because you are uncomfortable in such situations?

I find these questions are helpful to people who are new to using social media as a networking and business tool. This analogy can help those who cannot see the value of this important form of communication. Sure, you can go to a cocktail party and hit everyone up as a sales lead while blabbing on about what your company does. But that approach is unlikely to make you popular.
Guess what? The popular people on the cocktail circuit build relationships. People like to do business with people they like.

So go ahead and join the party. But think of it as just that – a fun place where you give more than you get. But what you get in return are lasting relationships, many of which can lead to business opportunities.

Allison Rose Action Item

Attend a cocktail party or networking event and apply what you have learned in this Coaching Blog. If you can master the perfect cocktail offline, it will be an easier transition when you start utilizing these strategies in your social media strategy! Practicing these skills in an offline setting with teach you to be conscious of your behavior, and you will be more apt to successfully apply them online. 

Remember, if you want to be a part of a community or build a community — you do it online just like you’d do it offline.  You mix and mingle.  You share what you have — interest, expertise, connections, and your attention.  

Cocktail parties can be a great way to promote your business. Social media can help you do this same thing, if you provide value to your audience, establish yourself as a thought leader and be genuinely helpful. As a result, people will be glad to meet you and when they are ready for your services, you will get the call.

Allison Rose Cocktail Party Tips:

Keep it social.

Red or white? Your voice on social media should sound like it does after one glass of wine, casual and relaxed. It is difficult for some to lose the business rhetoric, but social media demands a more casual tone. The focus should be on building relationships and getting to know people.

Don’t be boring.

At a cocktail party, if you talk about yourself the whole time, you are boring! This is also true on social media, where it is even easier to walk away. People don’t want to hear about you. They want to know you care about them; they want to know you will be generous with your time and are willing to help. Get to know your audience, and ask questions that help you understand their needs. Give them information they need, or simply try to make a difference in their day.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~ Maya Angelou

Focus on the reader.

Keep the focus on the reader and your audience will grow. Use the 80/20 rule to keep your social media content interesting while still delivering the goals of your marketing strategy. The first 80% of the content you post has two objectives: to engage the reader and to build credibility with your audience. The last 20% of your content is for promotion. If you have properly built the relationship with your audience then it is okay to ask for the sale.

Engage your readers.

Don’t sit in the corner and stare. Get out there and start a conversation. At a party you might make eye contact and smile. This helps gain peoples trust. On social media you do this by, liking their comments, or responding with a simple thank you. People want to know you are listening. Monitor your sites activities and respond quickly to make followers feel comfortable and most importantly, valuable.

Be friendly.

People want to do business with people, not with logos and corporations. Use a picture of yourself as your profile picture, not your logo. On social media your profile picture is akin to your handshake and a welcoming smile. The profile picture is your chance to look the reader in the eye and smile as if you were excited to meet them. If you choose your logo as a profile picture, make sure to include pictures of yourself in the cover photo or throughout the page. Avoid photos where it is obvious other people in the photo were cropped out. Keep the picture professional but friendly.

Keep a consistent voice.

Develop a character for your brand and keep a consistent voice or tone to build your brands identity. Just like a cocktail party it is important to come across the right way. Develop your brands voice by deciding if you want to be funny, sincere, helpful, or authoritative. What is your purpose for being on social media? You may choose a different voice if you want to educate versus entertain. Find the voice that is right for you and be consistent, it will help to build trust and nurture a relationship with your readers.

In Conclusion: 

Cocktail parties are a great way to meet new people and to develop relationships that can benefit your business. Social media can do the same thing, but just like a cocktail party, some simple etiquette should be observed.

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