Everyone is jumping on the ‘Social Media’ bandwagon. For example, in the year since I started using twitter, more and more construction professionals are using it – and now I’ve found over 1400 architects and over 500 UK Construction professionals on twitter.
But hang on a minute. Just because thousands of people have set up accounts doesn’t mean they are getting something out of it, and it doesn’t mean it’s for you either. So before we all rush in, lets look at what you can do with these tools in relation to your business.
Marketing – not so much money, but more time
Professionals make broad use of ‘media’ (traditionally newspapers, trade press, publishing) to share information about their company.
Your website is a marketing tool, but many professionals don’t use their website well and don’t see much in the way of tangible results. Mistakes can be expensive.
This is all changing with the new internet. Right?
Blogs (like this one) allow you to share your information with an audience much more cheaply and effectively. Online communities (sites with forums and places to have discussions on a topic of shared interest) are places where you can demonstrate your expertise and attract interest through people’s searching for subjects online. Many of these tools can be used for free. So you might think that its free and easy.
But all this ‘content’ has to be written. Whoever does it has to be good at it and must be willing and able to put in the effort, consistently over time. If you’re a good networker you’ll know that it’s a long game and contacts need maintaining.
So it is with networking online. You’ll have to give it your time.
Business Development – its about being yourself
Essentially networking is about growing relationships with your clients and future clients, partners and collaborators. If you’re a sociable person, you can keep in touch with your contacts online as well as on the phone, via email and meeting face to face.
Sites like linkedin, twitter and online communities help with this, but you must develop an approach to these tools that is possible to maintain, or you’ll be letting people down and that will look bad.
So don’t go jumping into every possible opportunity, you need to be more strategic.
Networking online – it’s about having a plan
Before we dive in, lets find out more about what is possible, yes. But before that, we need to know what we want to achieve.
Have you got a strategic plan that describes what you want to achieve for your business?
Have you got a marketing plan that tells you who you need to get to know?
Only when you can answer these questions is it possible to ask:
How can the internet help you achieve those goals?
What tools can help you?
Lets not put the cart before the horse.
Your homework (if you choose to accept it) is to identify:
- What do you want to achieve for your business?
- Who do you need to get to know?