3 October 2011

5 Mindsets to use Social Media for Business

“Social Media for Business” is the title of our most popular workshop, but this month I want to focus on the exact mindset you need to use Social Media and networking for your business.

In total there are 5 different mindsets that I can define and you will be most successful if you apply a perfect mix of all five.

Mindset 1 : Non-professional use

Almost 10% of all people on earth use Facebook. Recent numbers show 60% of Internet users in Belgium are using Facebook. Lots of people are using other networks too. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Netlog, Xing and Ecademy are the most popular networks in Belgium right now. 
Those people who aren’t entrepreneurs or business owners probably use Social Media to share photos, connect to their family and friends, search for old school friends, organize a street BBQ and so on. Professional users will also engage in these activities with their family and friends.

This is what I would define as non-professional use. It does however take part in building your image and credibility. Do you share drunk pictures of a bachelor weekend or do you choose to share pictures of a trade show visit which could also be interesting for your job ?
You are the one who decides what people get to see when they visit your online profiles. And remember … You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Mindset 2 : Networking

Social Networking websites were originally designed to get in touch with people you know and connect to new interesting people. You can grow your network with minimum effort and get to know people through their online profiles, blogs, comments and other actions. Easy to use communication tools make it easy to start a conversation and get to know more people. Even for the most timid people the threshold is very low when using online networks. To boost the relationship it might still be needed to meet face to face, but this will be easier because you already had contact online. The first thresholds have disappeared

Mindset 3 : Building credibility

LinkedIn, Facebook and some other networks allow you to share links to interesting articles, blogs, video’s, … any possible content on the world wide web. By sharing content from your industry you will build credibility on your expertise. Even better is to write articles yourself on a blog and share those on your Social Media profiles. You will provide a mix of your own views together with expert advice from your industry leaders. People in your network will automatically link the topic of your choice to your name and refer people to you with any question or demand on that topic. I strongly believe that in your network you can grow to be an expert in your industry just by sharing high quality information and views on that topic.

Mindset 4 : Marketing
Social Media websites offer many possibilities to market your products and services. You can set up events or groups to connect to your audience and get them involved. This however is still the trickiest mindset because your network won’t allow you to spam them daily with commercial information. If you apply a mix of all mindsets the smallest amount of posts should be the marketing related posts. If you share great value, people will also be interested in your commercial message. If your focus is only on marketing your business, people will turn away and loose interest.

Mindset 5 : Peer support
Last but not least there is a different kind of networking which is very important for small business owners. While many networking websites and events cater the need to grow your network, some other networking formulas cater the need to have your own advisory board or brainstorming group to help you with problems and ideas. This kind of peer support needs a lot of communication which can easily be established through the use of Social Media. By creating a safe and secure forum on a Social Networking website you can have your own advisory board ready for input at any given moment of the day.

Apply the right mix
Whenever you meet newbies on social networking websites or events they often focus too much on just one of these mindsets. Often they focus very hard on marketing their business, while the nr. 1 target of networking is of course to grow your network of contacts.
The magic formula to be successful in networking is to find the perfect mix between these 5 mindsets. In the first 3 years, you only need to focus on a mix of the first 4 mindsets. Once you have established a quality network you will possibly want to add the fifth mindset to create a secure source for peer support. At the end you will need all 5 mindsets, but you have to be very careful to apply the right mix. Your story will become more interesting and people will be more attracted to you.

People will see you as a real person (1) who wants to grow his/her network (2), who is an expert in his/her industry (3), who has interesting products or services to offer (4) and who has surrounding him/her with other high quality networkers (5).