As our ability to communicate expands worldwide, we are becoming a global community. We can reach out to people around the world using sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. People are coming together, craving community and connection. People, wanting to be seen, heard, and understood, are changing the face of how we do business.
This is the age of joint ventures and affiliate partnerships. We no longer have to struggle alone to grow our businesses; the trend is to move forward with partners. “Why compete when we can collaborate?” is what we hear more and more.
As an entrepreneur, you are ideally situated to ride the wave by taking advantage of this new movement toward community. By being proactive and utilizing the tools available to you, you can vastly broaden your reach. It’s not the Internet that is driving us to be more social, it is a predictable trend in human nature that is moving us to want to connect, be more social, collaborate more, and join together with others who are like-minded. It is this bigger human trend that is taking the Internet and turning it into a social-contact machine the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
Here are some ways you can tap into this emerging trend and position yourself to use social networking sites to your advantage and grow your business:
- Think about who you can partner with and how you can help each other to expand your reach for mutual benefit.
- Investigate new ways to collaborate with individuals who are in similar industries, or who were once your competitors. (They have a name for this because it happens that often! They call it “co-opetition,” the combination of cooperation and competition.)
- Be creative and reach out with the intention of helping each other in the process. This is the key as we move into this new marketplace.
- Learn about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other important networking sites through free online tutorials; learn how businesses are benefiting from social networking.
It’s fun to scour Facebook and the other social and business networking sites to look for old friends and reconnect but as I look at my social networking sites I see people, at first a few but eventually hundreds and even thousands that are showing up in my community. Just seeing them there is like a mini-introduction, showing up in each other’s communities shows that we have something in common and that connects us. In fact, we feel like we know each other even though we’ve never met or spoken.
But too often this is where it ends! Take this tool one step further to build valuable relationships by reaching out beyond the norm and creating strategic alliances that can propel you forward in ways you never imagined.
Reach Out and Touch Someone—or—the Lost Art of the Cold Call
Remember this AT&T iconic slogan? Its meaning is more important now than ever. Our modern social networking medium is amazing, but what if you took it one step further and picked up the phone and made a more lasting connection? This is the magic opportunity; you can turn social networking into something that will differentiate you from others and boost sales.
While I was on Facebook recently, I found a college friend I hadn’t spoken to in twenty years. I sent her a message to “reconnect” and then went to her info page and noticed that she works in advertising sales for a major corporation. It was fun to connect via message, but it was even more fun to pick up the phone, exchange stories about our lives over the last twenty years, and be able to ask for a referral to her VP of sales. As a corporate sales trainer, this turned out to be a really great lead for me.
Your first step might be to become friends with people online, but don’t stop there. Make a real connection with someone and pick up the phone. If you can’t find phone numbers, company names, or email addresses on their profile, then send them a message and book an appointment to speak on the phone. Cold calls aren’t really cold anymore, at worst they are “warm calls” because you have made the introduction via a friendly message, by sharing mutual interests and just that is already building a relationship! As social human beings we tend to have a predisposition to like people who like what we like. So use that, use the similarity of interests you’ve already discovered to build rapport.
One of the stumbling blocks for people is determining who to call. Creating your list isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, you can utilize the social networking and business networking sites to create a comprehensive list of people and places to contact. Utilize these sites for all they have to offer and conduct searches for individuals and companies that are in your target market. LinkedIn has an excellent advanced search.
This is the time to shift the global community and our global consciousness and work together in new ways. This is the time to work collaboratively in teams rather than as individuals. This is the time to think outside of the box or to do away with the box altogether. Take full advantage of all the tools available, both new and old. The Internet and the phone are a match made in heaven.