Growing your target market audience is obviously very important but there is also so much opportunity to meet with and connect with other business owners. You can promote each others content, reciprocate connections to each others resources and audience, find service providers, share advice or build joint venture (JV) partnerships.
Build Business Connections
When you participate in social media always take the time to build and nurture business relationships too. A few things you can do:
- Help others without expecting something in return. Provide content, offer advice, ask if you can record a webinar and do all the work. As you know, business owners are so busy that it makes it hard to cut through the noise to make meaningful connections. It's easier to grab their attention by first offering to help in some way.
- Join a forum or a group to meet like-minded business owners. LinkedIn and Facebook have the opportunity to create and join groups, but good old fashioned message boards are a great place to make social connections as well. And yes, forums are the original social networks, so they’re included.
- Take another look at LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the best venues to make B2B connections since it's a network of professionals. You can get your business questions answered, share your business expertise and more.
- Meet your connections face-to-face. While social networking is a great way to meet business connections, you can also take it offline to connect with people directly and not just through status updates. Attend a seminar where your B2B contacts will be, create your own business event or you can check out sites like Meetup.com to connect with your peers. There is nothing like cementing a connection by meeting face to face.
Not only do you want to actively seek out new people to connect with, you also want to make it easy for people to approach you. Here are a few easy ways to do that:
- Participate in conversations other people are having. Share your thoughts, ideas and be generally helpful. Helpfulness makes you much more approachable. And, always remember your manners – be courteous and respectful.
- Respond to messages directly and timely. Don’t get so big for your britches that you think you can ignore people. That's a sure way to burn your bridges.
- Complete your profile. You'll want to make sure on whatever networks you choose to get involved in that you have a detailed profile that shows what you are interested in. This is particularly important on professional networks like LinkedIn and forums.
Remember Your Audience
It’s important to keep your audience in mind when adding updates on your social networks. Your customers might not be interested in business topics, but your B2B connections will be.
For example, on Facebook, you can separate contacts into Lists. This is helpful so that you can broadcast status updates to only certain types of connections. And, on Google+, you can use the Circles feature to identify and communicate with your B2B contacts. Always be aware of this, so your information is targeted to the right audience.
And again, join specific forums and groups for your business connections. These will allow you to speak more freely and stay on target with what the audience wants to hear.
Trying to run a business completely on your own in this day and age is doing it the hard way. There are so many opportunities to meet other business owners and mutually benefit from building these relationships. Whether it be that you can't figure out what's wrong with your web code and need a programmer, or looking for a graphic artist, or need a partner for your next project, when you’ve got a network of business contacts, it’s much easier to accomplish your goals.