How to Learn About Social Media (3 of 3)

In Part 1: Absorb of this 3 part series, I introduced you to MY MISSION:  taking my social media knowledge, experience and learnings to the next level.

In Part 2: Create, I explored how through creating you are actually learn.

So, now its Part 3.  Using Networking as a tool to learn more about Social Media.

  1. Absorb

  2. Create

  3. and now….Network!!

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So, what is the big deal about networking anyway.  Let me tell you about how I got my current job.

I was laid off in October 2008 by Rogers TV.  Great bunch of people and I was sad to go.  I was riding the first wave of layoffs in the recession.  I immediately took care of some personal things and then hit the ground running January 2009.. I was going to find someone who could use my brain.  … and well… pay me.

And what did I find?  NOTHING. ZILCH. ZERO.  Budgets were frozen.  More friends got laid off.  It was not a great time.  I did the basics; applying to job posting online, but was not getting traction.  What was missing in my search?  Answer: the ability to know someone, who knows someone so that I can find opportunities and be recommended for them.

Then one day in July 2009, an old acquaintance, Tim Williams, found me on LinkedIn.  He was a producer that I worked with in my YTV days.  In our first exchanges I asked him to “Hire me.  Or all a friend and get them to hire me”.  I was half kidding, but he responded, “I just might have something.”  He is VP of Product at videoBIO and now I’m a Director.

Morale of the story?  I had spent 7 months networking online.  My LinkedIn profile was complete.  I was actively tweeting and I was reaching out to people to offer my help and seek opportunities.  And at the end of the day, SUCCESS.  It was through online networking with someone I knew that gave me the right opportunity.

So what are my plans on NETWORKING to learn more about Social Media?

1.  Online Networking.

  • Find the key players and reach out to them on their blogs.  Contribute by adding your ideas and opinions in the comments that truly add value.  Just saying “Hey, great post” doesn’t cut it.  Its important to follow popular influencers, like Chris Brogan, but its hard to break through and a get a response sometimes.  Therefore, be sure to include up and coming influencers in your outreach.  These are people who are in the space, are obviously adding value and making a difference, but have yet to break into Ad Age’s Power 150. Its through these relationships that you will grow.
  • Expanding my connections on LinkedIn.  This is great because most people keep their LinkedIn info current. You always are able to stay in contact, even if their contact info has changed.  Find old friends, connect to new friends.  Keep your circle expanding.
  • Contributing to LinkedIn groups and the Answers section.  I can help and meet some great people along the way.
  • Reach out to people on twitter.  Retweet them.  Reply to their comments.
  • Once you found someone interesting anywhere online, find their other online touchpoints.  Their blog, their facebook page, their Linkedin account.  Connect to them there too.  If you make the effort, add value and are genuine, you will find great success in return.
  • Find other online social tools.  Flickr for pictures.  YouTube for video.  Third Tribe Marketing for education and forums. Etc.
  • Cross Promote.  If you wrote a blog post, tweet about it.  Tease your content on your facebook page.  Update your status on LinkedIn.  Leverage the value of each platform.

2.  Network in Real Life.

  • Conferences are GREAT.  Can’t afford to go?  Volunteer!  That’s what I did when I was unemployed.  I volunteered at Mesh and Canada 3.0.
  • Join your local associations.  I belong to WIFT and Interactive Ontario.  Both have a ton of great networking events.
  • Local Meetups.  I love going to #TTT.  That’s Third Tuesday Toronto.  At the last one I heard a great presentation from Mitch Joel about Personal Branding.  He stuck around and signed his book “Six Pixels of Separation“.  (a great read BTW)
  • Tweetups.  I have yet to attend one, but my buddy Kelly May has sold me on the concepts and I’m taking the next opportunity.
  • How about sending an email to an existing contact?  Ask how they are doing.  Invite them to lunch.  Not only is it important that you make new friends, but its even more important that you stay in touch with existing friends.

Ok.. I’m sure I didn’t cover it all.  What are you doing to network?  Throw your ideas in to the comments.  Would love to hear them.

Social Media = Business Skills

On LinkedIn, Josh Blank asked the question in the Social Media Success Summit 2010 group:

How important is previous experience when hiring someone to head up Social Media?

There were a few comments, but the one that really stood out to me was Tia Dobi’s [highlighted parts are mine]:

Hmmmm…I would definitely hire someone with the ability/mindset to bring in new business – is there a head position where we would not want experience and results from the new hire?

…Getting someone with business sense to create profits for your company (and to not understand that relationships create profits would be amateur/immature thinking it seems to me).

…I would never suggest entrusting the future profits and growth of a business to someone without a mature business mind and the hands-on knowledge of connecting the dots.

In my social media research I rarely come across social media = business.  Yes, there is alot of discussion about what is the ROI of Social Media.  My favs:

The perception of Social Media is that it is Social and thus not a true business driver.  Social media is a young field.  The internet is young.  I’m 36 and my university days did not include the World Wide Web.  I graduated in 1995 when the web was born.  There was NOT ONE laptop at my lectures…  that was 15 yrs ago!!

But lets look at the core of what a business is.  According to dictionary.com, its “the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit.” In order for that transaction to happen you need 2 people.  The seller and the buyer.  Business is that fancy dance of letting you know what I got to buy and finding what you need to buy.  Yes… to use the cliche, it takes 2 to tango (and to make money).

Social Media = Relationships

So… Laurinda where are you going with this?  Its about the relationship.  I need to find you.  You need to find me.  We meet and have a transaction that is mutually beneficial (for the most part).  Without you or without me.. there is no transaction.  No business.  Therefore the relationship is ESSENTIAL.

What makes a good relationship?

  • Understanding
  • Communication
  • Credibility
  • Respect
  • Trust

How do you build relationships in social media that lead to business?

  • Understanding:  Listen to your marketplace.  Understand who they are and what are their needs.
  • Communication:  Talk to your marketplace.  Be part of the community.  Be helpful.  Don’t just PUSH your message out.  Imagine if you did that with your friends, they would look at you as if your nuts.  Instead, put to use all those good manners that your mom taught you.
  • Credibility and Respect:  If you listen to understand and communicate to be a good community citizen, you build trust and credibility.  And when someone wants something that you offer, they will go to the place that they know and trust over someone else.
  • Trust:  If you hang out long enough and proven your worth, people will trust you.  Its a slow build, but in a time where people value other people’s opinions, you will have business “ambassadors” doing the pre-relationships for you.

In answering Josh’s question.  One key element is truly understanding how social media will drive your business.

Do you agree?

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