It isn’t just what you know, and it isn’t just who you know. I
t’s actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.
~ Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and The Go Giver
Networking used be generally understood as person-to-person events you attended to meet people for the purpose of finding new business opportunities. The tools for networking were clear:
- appropriate attire for your line of business 8400
- snazzy business card
- a carefully rehearsed 30-second elevator speech
Today, much of business networking is both global and virtual: business networking can be with potential clients, vendors and contacts around the worked, and conducted online, either in real time or by searching for potential business contacts and interacting via online messages. In today's online economy there is real potential you will do significant business with customers and other businesses whom you may never meet or actually speak to. It is vitally important for marketing professionals to develop online networking skills that result in leads that convert to sales. The most critical online networking tool is your social media profiles.
Online Networking Tips for Marketing Pros
1. Choose the right profile image
Your profile image is your online business card. It's the 1st impression anyone has of you and your skills. Its how people will recognize your Tweets, status updates and posts. Your social media profile images should be:
- consistent across your different social platforms. If you use one photo on Twitter, another on Instagram and yet another image on LinkedIn, how can you expect your online network to recognize you?
- recognizable and personable. Fun photos of you hiding behind your cat or a beer mug are fine for your personal Facebook page: but do not project a professional business image. Its not necessary to pay for an expensive headshot (although many job seekers do). Just as a photo on your resume used to be verboten, a strategic image on your social network profile conveys a message about you and how you do business.
- optimized with your name. When you upload an image to your social profile, make sure the file is named Your Name and Business, not image123_headshot. Search engines can't read images, so be sure your profile image file name is searchable.
- sized for each social network. Every social network has its own profile image dimensions so take the time to custom size your profile image for each social network, or part of your carefully selected photo may be chopped off.
2. Optimize your social profile bios
Your social profile bio has taken the place of your 30-second elevator speech. Different networks allow different numbers of characters, but the 1st 160 characters (the length of your Twitter profile, which is the shortest profile) should be the basis of all your social bios. Your social profiles do NOT have to be identical on all platforms: but they should be consistent. Each of your social profiles should contain:
- keywords describing your services, skills and experience.
- hashtags may be annoying, but #'s are an accepted and strategic way to organize and search specific topics on many social networks. Research which hashtags are popular with your field, and add them to your social media profile. Create one or two hashtags that are unique to your business: such as #yourslogan #YourNameandBusiness or #YourSpecialEvent.
- your business URL and name so viewers can easily visit your site.
3. Express yourself with your cover photo
Your social network cover photos are valuable real estate and the perfect opportunity to demonstrate creativity and individuality combined with strategic marketing messages about your business.
- add text to your cover photo. A great cover image can communicate a lot about your business. Adding text to your image provides specific messages that an image alone may not convey such as a CTA or event headline, a coupon code or promotion, or a unique benefit.
- update your cover photo regularly to keep your business profile fresh and add your image to your newsfeed.
- sized for each social network. Every social network has its own cover image dimensions so take the time to custom size your cover image for each social network, or your carefully selected photo may be distorted.
This cheat sheet from Constant Contact will help you customize your social media profiles:
Online networking is a vital part of your digital marketing strategy. It is important for marketing professionals to develop online networking skills that result in leads that convert to sales. The most critical online networking tool is your social media profiles: in person, if you make a bad first impression you have an opportunity to correct that impression. If someone doesn't like your online profile, chances are they'll never look at you again.
For More Information On Marketing Your Social Profile
Social Media Examiner: Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles
Business2Community: How Businesses Can Optimize Their Social Media Profiles