It’s a known fact that social media is a great asset for the modern business owner to leverage, but you wouldn’t believe how often it’s misconstrued as a waste of time. In fact, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, are so commonplace nowadays in the business world that your organization could fall behind others that properly utilize them. Facebook, in particular, is a powerful tool that can be used for online networking purposes.
Facebook can be an effective tool for growing your professional network in your chosen industry. As reported by CIO, here are five great ways you can use Facebook to your advantage and effectively make lasting connections.
Make a Choice: LinkedIn vs Facebook
One of the most common rebuttals to Facebook is that it’s not only a massive time waster (for those who have little self-control), but it’s not as effective at professional networking as its competitor, LinkedIn. The primary difference between the two is that LinkedIn is specifically designed for use by professional organizations to connect with industry professionals. It’s completely formal. Facebook is informal and, generally, the more personal choice which allows you to be seen as more than just a suit and tie. You’re seen as a person; after all, isn’t that the point of social media?
Besides that fact, LinkedIn is generally not part of the average user’s daily routine, while Facebook has been ingrained into the very fabrics of society over the past decade. Everyone and their brother is on Facebook, so you can know for certain that you’ll find some like-minded folks who want to get to know you.
Determining Your Target Groups
One of the best features about Facebook is that business owners like yourself can make and join Groups, where they can discuss topics related to their industry. There are two types of groups: public, which can be joined by anyone; and closed, which require a user to send a request to join to a group administrator. You should try searching for groups like “Texas Small Businesses,” or those with similar criteria. Or, you can search for groups dedicated to enthusiasts within your industry. Either way, the point of groups is to find like-minded individuals and connect with them in a virtual space.
When You Find a Group, Introduce Yourself
Before jumping into the action, you should take a moment to introduce yourself to the group and explain what you’re all about. While Facebook is indeed a great tool for meeting people, you should take into account that these are potential colleagues you’re dealing with. In other words, you want to come off as a friendly and entertaining professional who wants to give back to both the community and your chosen industry. Keep in mind that it’s still an informal environment, and you should treat is as such.
Start Sharing Knowledge and Contributing Insight
While it’s often recommended that you “lurk” in the group at first to get an idea of the culture and demographic of it, you shouldn’t be shy about sharing what you know with them. Ask for opinions on ideas and help those in need. You’ll be able to show the members of the group what you know, which will establish your authority and help them see you as a valuable asset.
Create Local Events for Group Members
If all members of your chosen group are local, it can often be beneficial to expand your relationship beyond the digital space. Try setting up events like seminars or conferences that are designed to help group members understand a certain topic. If you get people involved with your brand and your work, you’ll be able to foster an interest in it that can lead to more exposure down the road.
What are some of your favorite ways to connect with prospects on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.