From traditional offerings to the latest trend in social media coupons, the success of any business is built upon the power of human relationships.
Quality products and services will no doubt impact potential success, but so too will the people who represent them. And - if you haven't been hiding under a rock - you're well aware that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are now the "go-to" marketing tools of the 21st century.
Networking in Person
As you aim your social media messages to get people to do business with you, let's not forget about the power of in-person networking and how it can interact with your social media campaign.
I'm always perplexed to see so many conference attendees furiously tapping away on their laptops, smart phones or tablets and not taking full advantage of making some human connections while they can.
Here are some ways you can leverage these two networking methods before, during, and after an event.
1. Before the Event
Get the Details: Most events today have a digital presence: an informative landing page on a website, a LinkedIn or Facebook group, and/or a blog series. Here, you can learn the fundamentals of the event (such as time, place, itinerary), who will be the attending the events (from vendors to attendees), and if there is an established Twitter hashtag.
Start Networking: Now that you've gotten the event details, next up is your network. Is anyone from your "social media" network attending? Check LinkedIn contacts, Social Media followers, and friends on Facebook. Depending on the depth of these relationships, reach out and let people know you'll be there, or simply make a mental note to seek out specific people. One great benefit of being "connected" to someone via social media is that you have a natural icebreaker; you must have something in common that is both a known quantity, and presumably, of interest to both of you.
2. During the Event
Updates for All: It seems that everyone is mobile these days, with smart phones and tablets accompanying the vast majority of conference attendees. If you have one, don't forget to update those who were unable to attend the event with "tweets" and "updates" about what's going on.
You can also follow the event's hashtag conversations on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Find out what you might have missed in the next room, or see who else is attending that you'd like to meet. Again, this commonality can lead to fruitful conversations, so get out there and say "hello!".
3. After the Event
Spread the Word: Apart from staying in touch with all of your new acquaintances, you can also spread the word about what you've learned with the larger community, perhaps even enticing them attend next year and contribute to the knowledge of the group. If you're generous with your references, most people will return the favor, and the community will note your expertise. You will also endear yourself to event organizers by continuing to speak about their event long after the closing ceremonies have finished. Use these tools to build the relationships you have created and you will find success!
Enhancing Personal Relationships: Nothing will ever replace the power of personal relationships. Rather than seeing social media as a separate channel or tool from your true value, see it as a way to grow and expand your network. After all, it's who you know... and some things will never change!