With all the talk about using social media to promote your business, it seems like as good a time as any to look at how some people are using LinkedIn for just this purpose.

Two Options
If you’re going to use LinkedIn to promote business for you, you can connect with prospective clients and centers-of-influence directly or indirectly.

The former means using the ‘search’ function of LinkedIn to help you identify other LinkedIn members whose profiles suggest people who might find your services or expertise to be of interest.  You’ll also want to check out which LinkedIn groups their profiles show they belong to — because water (and, prospects) have a magical way of finding and connecting with their own kind.

The latter means using the many opportunities LinkedIn offers to help you make others aware of you and your expertise.  Typically, this means you’ll be using various ways of connecting with other members that are less direct.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at a few of the more popular and effective ways you can use LinkedIn to promote awareness of and attract response to you as well.

KEY POINT:
LinkedIn is where you can find business opportunities and be found by them as well

You know of facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Biznik and that there are (literally!) hundreds of social media sites and networks.

You are also likely to have a ‘profile’ on them, too.  But, do you know . . . WHY?

Check out this 2 minute, 35 second video for a very compelling answer!

All the social networks do is help you become “part of the conversation” . . . that’s happening in the heads of your prospects and key people . . . right now.

There’s a real shift in the way marketing is being done in 2011.

Outbound Marketing = ‘Old School’
Some marketers advocate what is called “Interruption” marketing — because your marketing messages are interrupting the attention of people who may (rebuttable presumption!!) be interested in hearing about you and your products and services.

Inbound Marketing = ‘New School’
In contrast, thanks to the proliferation of online social media — not just social networking sites — it’s very possible to engage with people on a topic and at a time when they’re interested in what you do or could do . . . for them — i.e. ‘NO Interruptions!”

Which Is Better?
Both kinds of marketing have their place.  Like life, few things are pure black or pure white.

Outbound marketing . . . cold calling, direct mailings, advertising on mass media, etc. are still valid for many businesses.  But, the shift is underway in how big a role and how much of a value the ‘Old School’ ways may be for companies like yours in the future.

Inbound marketing . . . using your blog with relevant and quality content to attract interested ‘eyeballs’ to your site, offering whitepapers, videos, etc. to motivate visitors to identify themselves to you and give you permission to cultivate a relationship with them, over time, until they are ready to make a buying decision . . . is growing in stature, importance, value and acceptance.

KEY POINT:
The world of marketing is changing . . . and the digital world is the ‘sandbox’ you want to be playing in! 

Today’s post is dedicated to a lady named Kate Barber who founded a business (Big Steps Little Feet) that is truly amazing and wonderful.

Kate graduated university with a degree in Dance and became the director of a dance school in Sydney, Australia. While there, she discovered that learning to dance is not the same thing as dancing to learn.  To Kate, creative movement and dance is but a means to the end of a child’s self-discovery and joyful expression of creativty and not an end in and of itself.

Follow Your Passion, Kate!
Kate obviously loves children and the creative aspect of teaching children to experience the world through creative and contemporary movement i.e. dance. So she continued to study early childhood development and how creative movement plays a key role in the way young children engage with their environment, stimulate their creativity and develop their cognitive and physical abilities.

Passions Fuel Dreams and Make Them Real
In 2004, Kate started her own ‘brand’ of creative movement for young children that she called, aptly, “Big Steps Little Feet“.  It’s so much more than a dance school!  Kate uses creative dance for babies, waddlers and toddlers as a way to promote healthy development (physically, mentally and emotionally) while fostering strong bonds between parent and child.

Successful Results (700% Growth in Year 1) Reflects Market Alignment 
In her first year of operation as Big Steps Little Feet, Kate’s enrollment grew 700%.  Why? Because what she does resonates beautifully with her target audience — “Mums, age 35 – 45, who are well educated, have discretionary income and appreciate a quality experience for their children”.

Postscript
You might wonder how I ‘met’ Kate Barber and her lovely business Big Steps Little Feet — given that it’s in Sydney, Australia.  Actually, I was alerted to a question she posed on a marketing site (MarketingProfs.com) and I replied.  I then Googled the company and found her profile on facebook.  From there, I found a link to her website.

Several lessons here:

1.  Do what you love . . .
(life’s too short to squander who you are on what you don’t love to do)

2.  When you’re clear about what you offer . . . the right people will respond to you
(alignment / target market)

3.  The world is very connected if you’re ‘online’
Walt Disney was right . . . it IS a ‘small World’ afterall

CONVERSION
Once your activity with social media attracts people to you . . . via your blog posts, your tweets, facebook fan page updates, etc. one of your goals must be to convert them from an unknown visitor into a recognized person or fan.  Why?  Because if you don’t learn who cares to engage in a conversation with you, it’s going to be difficult for you to sustain an ongoing connection, isn’t it?

Also, unless someone reveals who they are to you, they also aren’t giving you permission to engage with them.  If nothing else, remember this . . . “Permission = Attention”.  If someone isn’t telling you who they are, they aren’t likely to sustain their attention on what you’re saying online.  You need something to do this . . . it’s called an OFFER OF VALUE . . . and valued CONTENT (e.g. a ‘whitepaper’) works great for doing this!

COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
Call them fans or followers, the real value of social media is the creation and maintenance of a community of people who care to hear what you’re saying online and who (presumably) care about what you do in your business.

Finding and keeping a group of engaged fans . . . via facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media is an effective way to market your business and an efficient way to grow it, too.  Why?  As your follower or fan-base grows, you’re being exposed to their network connections too.  If you have 1,000 fans on facebook and each averages 50 fans of their own, you’re being exposed to 50,000 people — with each post and a simple click of your mouse.  That . . . is why your community is such a valuable asset.

KEY POINT:
Learning who ‘knows’ and ‘likes’ you and then building a relationship of ‘trust’ with them . . . is truly priceless marketing! 

Social Media is the topic of a business meeting we’re hosting tonight.  So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned are some keys to using social media to build profitable relationships.

Actually, there are six of them . . .

  • Intention . . . means to have goals for doing ‘social media’ in the first place
  • Content . . . is ‘king’ in the digital world; the bait that attracts attention for you
  • Curation . . . is the ‘distillation’ of data into interesting and useful information
  • Conversation . . . means to engage with your visitors, fans and others who ‘like’ you
  • Conversion . . . not always a transaction, but a degree of deeper connection with you
  • Community . . . a following of people who ‘know, like and trust’ you . . . PRICELESS

In the coming days, we’ll take a closer look at each point.  Why?  To help you use social media to build profitable relationships for your business or practice.

KEY POINT:
Social media is a KEY media you want to use in your marketing 

Google, the internet information mogul, is getting a lot of press lately.  It’s latest creation, Google+ is still in beta and early prognosticators are suggesting it poses a competitive alternative to facebook and LinkedIn.  Perhaps that’s why it is attracting a lot of attention.  Not all nice.

I’m not a Google zealot nor am I a detractor. But I do recognize the enormous player they are in the online information dissemination business. For that reason, I looked at their TOS and Code of Conduct to see, for myself, what may (or, may not) be a source of concern as many allege these days.

Google’s TOS (Terms of Service) says:
“You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” I’m no lawyer, but that’s pretty darned clear that content providers are recognized as retaining their rights by Google. It then goes on to state:
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

At first glance the ‘You give Google license to reproduce . . .” seems disconcerting. BUT . . . if you look at the last sentence, it provides a rationale . . . and a reasonable explanation: This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services”.

While I appreciate the concern people have upon hearing, ‘You grant Google a license to reproduce, adapt, modify, etc.” I don’t think it’s part of a Machiavellian plot to rule the content of the people (you and me) who make the Google service possible.

Finally, and this is more pragmatic than anything else . . .

KEY POINT:
“If not Google, Who?”

I was just reminded of how BUSY we all are.

A friend asked me to post / re-post on my facebook page about a great little audio on “How To Craft a Simple and Compelling Sales Message”.  I did.

Unfortunately, I almost immediately got a response back from another colleague on my facebook wall with a not-so-thinly veiled complaint that, “I’ve listened to this guy for 6 minutes and he STILL has not addressed the topic!”.

We live in an age of microwave mentality.  The internet has both expanded our horizons and contracted our patience.  Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, if you ignore this reality, it will cost you dearly in terms of your prospects’ attention, goodwill and revenues.

KEY POINT:
With online media, make your point . . . quickly, succinctly and effectively!

There’s a new wrinkle in the Facebook world.

And it portends some interesting changes you may want to know about.  Facebook is going to be creating the way you see the internet based on your interests.  LinkedIn has already been doing this.  Providing users with links to ‘outside’ sites but through the LinkedIn interface — the ‘wrapper’ is LinkedIn but the site is ‘inside’ the LinkedIn wrapper.

Facebook will now be doing this, too.  But the Facebook approach will cause information (i.e. advertising and other ‘relevant’ information) to be shown to you based upon your interests and favorites that are part of your Facebook profile.

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For advertisers, this means a huge base of people with increasingly relevant targeting should equal one of the best media for promoting a business on in a long time.  Now, if only the ‘privacy police’ will get on board with this . . . wait and see.

By the way, if you would like to receive a complimentary copy of an ‘10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know’ . . . click here.

LinkedIn is a wonderful social network for business.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a ‘User Handbook’ full of ideas on how to get the most value you can from being a part of it.

Here are some quick and easy ways can get more out of being on LinkedIn.

Drop Your Title!

For example, I used to use my title “CCO”. Now, my profile ‘title’ reads: “Helping small business owners attract clients and grow revenues”.

This allows you to inform people how you can help them rather than what you are — which may be lost on them, anyway.

Key Idea

Show your tagline instead of your title

Integrate with Twitter

The new Twitter integration functionality allows you to tweet a message and have it display in your status . . . automatically!.

You can edit your settings to show “ALL” your Tweets or, selective Tweets which you can set up with the hashtag (#) function on Twitter. Very cool!

Key Idea

Use the Twitter integration function on your LinkedIn profile.

Leverage Your Group Memberships

I’ve been writing a monthly article for The National Networker for about two years helping others leverage their marketing and networking to build relationships and revenues. After an article is published, my publisher, Adam Kovitz suggested I post it as a “news article” to the various groups that I belong to on LinkedIn. You can do the same thing with any blog post you write just as easily.

This one simple activity can drive tons of traffic to your blog!

In time, getting people to know of you (brand awareness), like you (brand preference) and trust you (brand value) because they’ve come to appreciate the value in your advice is . . . priceless!

Key Idea

Join the LinkedIn groups where your blog posts or articles will be relevant and post your “news articles” whenever you can.

Join The Conversations

LinkedIn has ‘Discussions’. Are you starting them? Are you commenting on them? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to leverage your membership and the value LinkedIn holds for you.

Contributing to LinkedIn Discussions is a great way to position yourself as an authority and showcase your expertise.

Always provide a link to a relevant page on your blog or landing page on your website. For example, if you comment on how to ‘generate referrals’, you should create a landing page where a Special Report on ‘Referrals’ can be downloaded. Remember, you’re offering relevant information in a meaningful context. So don’t just say, “Hey, I’m here!”. Offer value and . . . an easy way to get it!

Key Idea

Participate in the discussions on any LinkedIn group where your ideal clients are likely to be found and post questions to stimulate some discussions of your own.

Respond To Questions

Questions allow you to demonstrate your expertise and build up the “know / Like / Trust” factor you know is so important to your marketing success.

Both the questions you answer for others (and, ask) will be seen by visitors to your profile. Often, what you have to say may be more interesting than anything else a visitor will notice on your profile page.

Key Idea

Seek out questions posed by others on topics you can answer. Use an RSS feed coupled to your Google Reader to show you new questions as they appear and post your answers to your profile as well.

Want To Build Revenues With Social Media?

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