Like every growing industry, the internet has had its awkward years. By speaking of the awkward years in the past tense, I’m certainly not implying that we have grown out of them, but I feel that we as an internet-using community have experienced some major growth spurts as of late and graduated to a new level of maturity.
These advancements mean good news for online businesses.
The growth I’m referring to in the area of social networking. Finally, the internet is accomplishing what it is best at and that is connecting people in a way that is both professional and personal. Online social networking really takes us back to basics in terms of social networking and relationship building that was once only available at trade shows, conferences, and other business events.
Good online social networking is a lot like working the room at an industry event. Compare this to what online information has been in the past, which is the spewing of generalized, one-sided information in the hopes that someone would find it, read it, connect with it, and eventually find their way back to our website.
A lot of what social networking is all about interacting with people individually on a more personal level. Done right, online social networking is the key to getting to know the top industry experts in your field and to connect with individual customers on a personal level just like you might if you were face to face. And as we all know, we are more likely to recommend a guy we know to someone that has a problem than some website I came across on the internet.
There are some specific ways to take advantage of this profitable and fulfilling new wave of social networking.
Read blogs written by people in your industry and make it a habit of commenting on them regularly with quality responses. Bloggers read their comments and will click back to check out your website almost 100% of the time to learn more about you. This is the ideal way to get your website in front of some very influential people.
Create profiles on business social networking groups like LinkedIn and FastPitch where you can interact with potential customers and other industry professionals.
Seek out forums and websites like Yahoo Answers where your potential customers are asking questions that you are qualified to answer. Don’t make a hard sell in your response, but provide genuine information that will help solve their problem. They and others with the same question who read the post are highly likely to click through to your site to learn more about you, your products, and your services.
Mention people and companies that you want to get noticed by in your blog posts and link to their websites. This is typically referred to as link love. Most bloggers and site owners are obsessed with checking their stats and keeping track of who’s linking to them. You can be almost certain that if you link to a website in a blog post that they will find your post and read it.
The golden rule of social networking is to be genuine and honest. Online and offline, people like to meet and work with great people. Fantastic people make fantastic companies. Reaching out to others and being an approachable, friendly, helpful person has long been a hallmark of successful business people. Now it’s easier than ever to do this online and connect with a global audience.