Facebook is in the news again with its changes and updates to the way you view your information. And while its easy to fall into the trap of assuming Facebook is the only place to find new customers, don’t forget about the other large social sites as well.
The three top social sites right now tend to be LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Each has a distinct audience; each has a distinct way of bringing in the customers. If your goal is to reach out to businesses, LinkedIn is going to be your best social media channel. And just like the other social sites, they are definite ways to reach out and communicate with your prospects.
Every social media site has two important ways to get started. First it’s designing a powerful profile that will lead people to you and your other online presences. Second it’s communicating with people on a regular basis through status updates.
Whenever you place a new update on your profile, this will be added to the news feed of your entire network. And most heavy users – the people you’ll most likely be communicating with – will follow their news feeds daily, or at the very least weekly.
This is how you show your expertise. For example, when you tell everyone you’ll be shooting products for a catalog on location for the day, others in your network pickup on that, and start wondering how you can help them too.
Status updates aren’t all about promoting and selling; in fact it’s just the opposite. Your news feed should be filled with conversational information; information you would share if you were face to face with someone on a regular basis. Blog posts with quality content; links to great resources; and the occasional “this is what I’m doing” mixes it all up and showcases you as a “real” person.
Setup A Company Profile
Just like Facebook has profiles and pages, Linked in offers you the same opportunities. Your LinkedIn profile is all about you; your company profile is all about your company. It looks slightly different than your user profile, but its editable and can be filled with information about your company.
Because LinkedIn is more about business, people spend more time on business sites reading about the company, employees, and any other pertinent information they may find. They also have the opportunity to follow your company, which means they can follow your activities through their feed.
Nurture Your Network
Once your profile and company profiles are set up, and you’ve worked it into your schedule to be active on a regular basis, its time to give people what they want. Stay on top of what is happening within your network. Answer questions, post comments on things people are talking about, and pay attention to the general buzz. Its also great to make referrals as you can as well. For example, if someone says, “I just moved and I’m looking for a new dentist”, give him or her a referral. Being helpful is just as meaningful as talking about what you do.
Nurturing your network is great. But what if you only have 50 friends? You can’t really grow your business when you’re talking with the same 50 people over and over again. That’s why it’s important to use all the tools in LinkedIn, and reach out to the masses within your communities.
Head over and find groups that meet your specifications. But don’t fall into the trap of joinging photography groups, and expect business. Photography groups are where photographers hang out and chat about business – not where you’ll find clients. For that you’ll need to think outside the box.
If you’re trying to build a travel photography business, look for travel related groups. Or editors and publishers of magazines. Or art directors for convention centers.
Then ask and answer questions. Don’t sell your services; provide quality content, and share your knowledge freely.
The more you give, the more you’ll get. Yes, it may take weeks or even months to build a strong network with regular influence. Be patient, and it will come.