Social Networking for Business
Social media and social networking have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. It’s how we make announcements, share pictures and invitations and communicate in real time with hundreds of friends and family members. However, we can also use these tools for business – to make company announcements, share graphics and documents and update coworkers instantly.
Leveraging Social Networking for Business
Just about every company has a Facebook page or Twitter handle by now (and if they don’t, they should), and many businesses and recruiters use LinkedIn as an HR tool.
Some experts, however, believe that Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) will play a large part in the future of business communication. Some well-known ESNs include Yammer and Salesforce.com’s Chatter.
One such expert is Bill Wade. As the founder and president of Company.com, a Social Network specifically designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs, Bill helped me break down the ins and outs of social networking for businesses.
“When it comes to internal communication, social media is great for collaboration,” Bill said. He explained that a major internal benefit of an enterprise social platform is being able to collaborate with your fellow employees. Email, chat, and social media are all great tools for sharing project information across user groups, departments and a company, but it is easier to have a discussion when everyone can post his or her viewpoints and opinions in one centralized location. Such a strategy allows coworkers to comment on their own time and is much more organized than an email chain.
Social Networking: A Tool for Communication
Jason Fried, the co-founder of 37 Signals and author of the book Rework, explains in his 2010 TED Talk “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work” that holding meetings can actually be detrimental to getting work accomplished. Meetings are involuntary distractions that interrupt the workflow of the individual. Finding a way for co-workers to communicate at their own convenience helps keep people focused when they need to be and ultimately more productive. Business social networks help make this happen.
Engage with Customers and Build Partnerships
Social networking is more than just internal communication. Most people in business, along with just about every marketer, understand that social media is a great way to engage and connect to your customers. Tools like Facebook allow you to start conversations with your consumers and get their feedback.
“A social media tool should be social,” Bill said. “It can’t be solely a one-way marketing effort. Even a good-intentioned effort will seem like spam if poorly executed and lacking real engagement.”
In addition to communicating with customers, social networks also foster strong business partnerships. Bill said, “Social networks are great for helping users gain access to new contacts and start relationships that would otherwise be hard to find.”
Social media networks can help business executives uncover shared connections which can lead to potential new partnerships. Whether it’s just an introduction email from a friend or a referral on LinkedIn, it is now much easier to introduce yourself to others and start partnerships.
Bill’s final piece of advice is to remember that “business is about people.” Social media is a very powerful tool, but don’t let it take too much control over the way you communicate. Social media will never replace the impact of a one-on-one conversation. Think of social media as a communication skill you should practice, similar to presenting a sales pitch or making a cold call by phone.
I’d like to thank Bill Wade for this interview and recommend you check out The Social Network for Business at Company.com. Stay tuned to my blog for more small business and entrepreneur news.