AKRON (Feb. 16, 2014) — Part of being a business professional is to reach out and speak to people.
Whether it is your customers or industry experts, communication is an important part of business. This blog post will focus on the benefits of social media networking. (Later this week, look for another blog by Tire Business Online Manager Alaina Scott that will discuss networking in person.)
The two best ways that you can use social media networking are by reaching out to people you will see live at an industry event or by reaching out to those you would not have the chance for face time.
I have heard people say they think networking in person is important, but that they don't see the point in reaching out on social media. One of the best parts of social media networking is that it can be groundwork for networking in person. There are quite a few people I've met on Twitter first and, because of that contact, met them in person at a conference.
This can be helpful when you are going to an event to network because it allows you to get a head start with it before you even leave home.
If you are using social media networking to network during or before an event, the place you want to start is looking for an official hashtag. For instance, last summer Tire Business held its International Tire Exhibition and Conference (ITEC) Show in Orlando, Fla., and one of the hashtags used was #ITEC2014.
Tire Business, its staffers, speakers, exhibitors and attendees started using the hashtag well before the show started. Using this hashtag helps you see who is attending, if there are appointments you can set up beforehand and allows you to just simply reach out and say hello.
I've acquired some of my best contacts this way. For the next show you are going to, look to see if there is a hashtag — go to the show's website or Twitter account to see if it mentions a hashtag — and start using it. Simply posting, “Getting excited for #ITEC2014. Who is with me?” can get the conversation going. People then have the opportunity to reach out to you.
This is also important if you are exhibiting at a show, because it will let people know that you are there and ready to start some conversations before arrival.
Besides using it for preemptive show coverage, social media networking is still a great tool to use to reach out to other people in the industry and even to your customers.
While it may seem hard to determine how to best utilize it to reach customers, think about different news, events, etc. that are going on in your area. If you are a local shop, look into local activities that people may be speaking about, such as a sports game or business functions, and start posting and getting in the conversation.
Once you get more comfortable on social media, you can also start the conversation. Start posting about local topics or about industry news that you think could be relevant to your customers, such as recalls, safety issues, tire tips, etc.
Social media is about engagement, and that is what networking is all about.