Social media has changed how we do business in ways that would have been unimaginable even just a decade ago.
It has transformed how we learn, how we communicate, how we conduct meetings and events, how we interact with others, how we receive and respond to news, and so much more.
Networking on social media for business is one of the biggest ways social media has changed the business landscape.
It can be a very powerful, even fantastic tool for launching and building a business or a brand. It is low cost and offers exposure to large audiences. It can be used as a tool for introduction, transaction, information gathering, and socialising.
It opens the door to business to business and business to consumer networking on a grand scale. It can foster fast connections that are stronger and more intimate than ever before.
Yet like anything else, while it has its certain advantages, social media also has some distinct disadvantages, and it doesn’t bode well to be blind to these.
A very small stumble on social media can spell disaster for your brand. Even your use of social media for personal purposes, if your posts are public, can impact on your business in a negative way.
It’s a matter of weighing the advantages against the disadvantages and looking at how you use social media for business networking purposes.
So what is networking?
Put very simply, networking is the way in which entrepreneurs and businesspeople form valuable relationships which will in turn allow for the recognition, creation, and embracing of business opportunities.
It is mutually beneficial and a great way for businesspeople to share ideas and create potential partnerships to further their business interests. Networking, when it works, is far more cost effective and enjoyable for all parties than formal public relations efforts or advertising.
It needs to be noted that it can be conducted ethically, or be used in ways which are questionable when it comes to ethics – and this is one way social networking has both its benefits and its drawbacks.
Social networking is simply networking conducted via social media. It can be done for personal, social, or business reasons – and the lines between these can become blurred. This is where social media for business users need to treat carefully.
Social Networking: The advantages
- Global connectivity: Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram instantly connect you to a potentially global audience. Meet new people; reconnect with people from your past, and converse and share information and ideas with new business connections in real time.
- Real-time information dissemination: Alert others to your business news and industry updates immediately and know that those seeing your posts are targeted and have an interest in what you have to say.
- Generate revenue: Use the social platform to build and grow your community. Advertise your service or product widely and easily within the social media platform.
- Develop your brand: Never has brand interaction been so accessible on such a personal level as with social media. Choose the right voice for your business on social media and further develop your brand in the minds of consumers.
- Connect: With current and past customers, interested consumers, potential partners, connections, clients, and lead generators for your brand. A growing number of entrepreneurs and business owners are conducting the bulk of their connecting, brand building, reach expansion, selling, and networking on social media.
- Exchange ideas: This is the nitty gritty of networking. Networking is about creating a mutually beneficial relationship of some kind. This is great for sharing knowledge, referring by word of mouth, recruiting, and exploring and discovering new ideas and new potential for your business’ growth and direction.
Communications are virtually instantaneous and social networking eliminates the need for voice calling and emailing, thanks to private or direct messaging capabilities.
Social media is fun: Most people who use social media love their preferred platforms. We thrive on seeing people interact with our content, and we also enjoy seeing and knowing what others are doing from the remove of being on social media and not needing to communicate with them directly.
Effective use of social media for business and networking has the benefits of great word of mouth – but on an unprecedented scale. This can deliver:
- Reduced costs for marketing
- Improved search engine ranking
- Increased website traffic
- Improved sales numbers
- Higher levels of customer engagement
- More customer feedback
- Facilitation of market research
- Better resultant networking opportunities
Social networking: The disadvantages
Not all businesses and brand owners are suited to social media. Even those that are well suited to social networking can become too carried away and ultimately do their business some level of harm.
- It can be overwhelming: Social media can be a very noisy place. Keep your personal and business profiles and friend/follower lists separate. Would you want your boss to see your private posts? Or if you are the boss, would you want all your employees to have access to your private profile?
- Take your biz hat off: When you network for business on social media, it’s easy to forget to keep your business “hat” on. Conduct yourself professionally at all times – keep personal political, religious, and social opinions to yourself unless they relate directly to your business.
- Substituting online interaction for offline connection: While social media is great for connecting and networking, there is still a definitive place for face-to-face interaction. Many social media networkers are neglecting this very important rule. Don’t allow social media use to make you antisocial in real life, and don’t assume if you have posted something on social media that everyone else will have seen it.
Your personal connections may not be particularly interested in your business posts, and the vast majority of your professional connections are most likely not at all interested in your personal life. When you post to your business profile, offer high value content so that your followers keep you active in their newsfeeds.
Additionally, let your business success speak for itself – don’t brag about your amazing holidays or fantastic pay rise on a social media if it’s a business profile! But do showcase your attendance at conferences and other industry events and highlight any industry awards or recognition you receive.
Other potential disadvantages of relying too heavily on social networking for business can include:
- Having an unclear overall social media strategy
- Failing to maintain a consistent presence on social media
- Risks of bullying, harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour by others on your profile
- Greater exposure equals greater risk – of negative feedback, hacking, information leaks, etc.
- Misleading posts by others.
- Saturation of followers’ newsfeeds
Take responsibility for yourself when networking for business on social media as you would if networking in person.
Post and respond to others mindfully and always treat others, no matter who they are, as you would if you were interacting face to face. Remember that your business social profile represents the face of your brand – so make it count in all the right ways.
Here are some other ways to make social media for you and not against you!
Social media marketing, when it is done well, goes a long way to helping build business success.
That’s a fact, don’t you agree?
In fact, market research demonstrates that referrals from social media result in thirty percent of all website traffic (Source: Shareaholic.com).
This is a huge bracket of consumers being positively influenced by a business or brand’s social media profiles and activity.
Read our blog here
Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool (and even a sales tool) when it is used right for your business.
But getting it right can be a minefield.
And if you get it wrong, it won’t only not work for your business and demonstrate a return on your investment; in fact, social media mistakes can actually harm your business.
Read our blog here
LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals and business connections. Ideal for building your professional profile, it can be harnessed for job seeking, recruitment, networking, and building valuable professional relationships and connections.
DID YOU KNOW: Numerous LinkedIn users join the platform then fail to fully leverage their contacts on the platform.
Yet the entire point of this social media platform is to build meaningful and valuable relationships that are related to your work, career, business, and industry. You need to know how to get LinkedIn connections and how to make them work for your benefit.
Read our blog here
Meanwhile, did we mention we have a free LinkedIn eCourse?
4 Week LinkedIn Optimisation Course: Not only do we share a bunch of valuable, relative and useful info on our blogs, but we’ve got a free LinkedIn eCourse to help you get the most out of this platform especially for B2B enterprises. If LinkedIn is your preferred social media channel, take a look at this course to raise your profile, generate leads and boost your business – so LinkedIn can start working for you.