Making the Most of Your Friends When Networking
Friends are more than just people you can hang out with and have a good time. They can be a useful business tool as well. With connections in different areas, they can introduce you to a whole new slew of great business contacts.
Having said that, mixing your business and personal life can be a risky venture. But, it can be done successfully so you can maintain your friendship and not feel uncomfortable. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of networking with your friends.
If you plan a get-together with your friend, make sure it’s clear from the get-go that you want to pick their brain about their business connections. If they go there thinking it’s just hanging out session and all you want to do is discuss business, then it’s going to be very frustrating for your friend.
A friend wants to help you, but you need to give them a heads-up of what you’re looking for. They’ll be more prepared to answer your potential inquiries during a meeting if they know the purpose of it.
Don’t Take Advantage
You never want your friends to feel like the only reason you’re friends with them is that they can further you in business. You can’t have every get-together be only about business. You have to continue to be their friend.
Hang out, go bowling, and remember to make sure to not always discuss business or contacts they can connect you with. You have to continue to do what you always did before you decided to go to them for help in business.
Give them the chance to direct the conversation and really listen to them and be there for them. If all you talk about is business, then your friendship is no longer a friendship and it’s just another business relationship. You need to keep your friends as friends.
Don’t Make Your Friend Do All of the Work
If you’re asking your friend to set up a meet and greet with one of his (or her) business contacts, then don’t make him do the whole thing.
You should write up a little biographic about yourself which can simply be copied and pasted into the email introduction. You can even give your friend a list of questions you’d like to discuss prior to your meeting.
Your friend likely isn’t getting anything out of introducing you to people other than the satisfaction of helping a friend. Make it worth their time by not occupying too much of their time building your business. They’ll appreciate you for it.
Don’t Compromise Their Integrity
Don’t ever ask your friend to do something that might compromise their integrity. Your friend is your friend and while they might be willing to do just about anything for you, don’t ask them to lie for you or do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable just out of some sort of duty to friendship for you.
Give them an out and a way to say no if they should feel they have to. Letting them know that you will be totally fine if it’s something they can’t do will keep your friendship strong. Make sure you mean it too, though. You have to be prepared for the possibility of them not being able to do something for you.
Friends are great resources, but it’s very easy to take advantage of them as well. Making the friendship your top priority when you are asking for help with networking is going to be of the utmost importance of keeping your friend a friend.
Making the Most of Social Media
In this day and age, it’s a no brainer that you should be using social media for your business. Social media marketing is a “must-do” for any business owner.
However, to do it correctly and get the most out of your social media marketing, you need to understand all of the nuances of each different social media platform.
Here are some tips for making the most out of your social media for your business.
1.) Who’s Your Audience?
There are multiple different social media platforms – far too many for one company, large or small, to try to be the best at all of them. You need to know where your audience is and what platforms they are using. This is the only way you’ll really be able to connect with your specific target audience.
For example, if you are a highly visual company with high-quality visuals, then you will find your audience mostly on sites like Pinterest and Instagram, where you can use high-quality photos to interact with your audience.
For a more professional audience, you’ll want to be on LinkedIn, and when you want word of mouth then social media sites like Twitter and even Facebook are best for that. Don’t just limit yourself to these ones of two social media platforms, though.
Just be sure you focus more on your target efforts for your audience to the platforms where your audience will be.
2.) Don’t Just Sell You on Social Media
The whole point of social media is to be social. This means you must interact and engage with your customers. Don’t always be asking them to do something or buy something, but rather make a social connection with them.
Do be careful about how you respond to customers, too. When someone is lashing out at you, it might be tempting to lash back, but that creates bad word of mouth for you. You should address praise and criticism in a professional and courteous manner.
3.) Be Transparent and Own Your Mistakes
Sometimes you might say the wrong thing on social media. Maybe you thought you were signed into a personal account or maybe your words were misunderstood, or you said something in haste without thinking about it first. It’s okay; it happens, but you must address it.
Don’t delete and say nothing and think it’s just going to go away. Own up to your mistake and if necessary offer up a sincere apology. Don’t make a hasty response, though. That’s what likely got you in trouble in the first place.
You might think you need to react quickly for damage control, but taking the time to think about how to properly address something will help you keep your foot out of your mouth.
4.) Post Frequently
This doesn’t mean so frequently that you come off as spammy, but try to post on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps that’s just once a day, or maybe it’s two or three times a day. Be purposeful in your postings, though, and be sure you take the time to post.
5.) Responding to Negative Feedback
Let’s face it; you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s the way of life, but just because someone doesn’t like you or your company or what you’re selling doesn’t mean they are wrong. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
Negative comments can be very upsetting, but if you ignore them and don’t deal with them, then it can be much more damaging to your reputation. Maybe you’ll win them over; maybe you won’t.
Offer up a way to help the customer resolve their issue. Ask to take it to private message, and perhaps a phone call will be in order to try to direct it off of public social media posts.
6.) Track Your Social Media
Know what kind of posts are getting the most interaction and what time you’re posting them. This will help you connect better with your audience by knowing what they like to see and when they’re most likely to see it.
Social media marketing can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Following the above steps will be a great start to creating highly interactive communities around your business on social media.
Important Considerations When Networking Globally
Thanks to the internet, the world has become a smaller space. You can now use social media to meet someone on the other side of the world and create a network with that person.
This is all new in the world of business – creating so many connections where having face-to-face contact is not always possible to do.
However, with many cultural differences, you’re going to need to be wary of exactly what you could say or do, so you don’t give the wrong impression about you or your business and end up with a huge misunderstanding.
If you’re going to be networking with people from all around the world, then there are some important things that you’ll need to take into consideration to maintain these relationships and make them strong.
1.) Social Media Is the Name of the Game
This is the easiest and safest way to get your name and your company out there. Look for international social media sites if you’d like to expand your network globally. Then build yourself a solid profile so you can network with people all over the world and get your feet wet a little, so to speak.
2.) Honesty and Transparency
You need to tell those who you network with who you are and what you have to offer and be completely transparent. If you know that there are other things on the market similar to yours, then let them know and let them know what makes your product superior to those others.
If you don’t know about similar products, then be sure you do thorough research into all aspects of what might be available in other countries and what other companies might be creating. You don’t want to get stuck looking like a liar.
3.) Listen to What Your Global Customers Want
Doing business in other countries is just not going to be the same as doing it in the States. You need to know the culture of the country that your potential networking partners are from so you can say and do the right things and be sure that what you’re offering is actually going to appeal to them.
4.) Attend International Marketing Events
Don’t just meet people through the internet. If you want to expand your business overseas and build a network with people overseas, then attend those international marketing events to get that face-to-face time with them.
You can work things very similarly to how you would when you attend local networking events, but you might need to adapt your elevator pitch to suit the needs of those global connections you’re trying to make.
It might help if you or your business partner could speak the native language of those you are trying to network with. It’s not always a necessity, but even a few words in their language could help.
Spreading your wings and growing your business to global proportions is a scary endeavor. If you do your homework and approach it all the right way, though, you’ll create a global network in no time for your business.