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Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will. Why network? It is the most powerful way to build professional relationships, actively foster contacts and disseminate information. The key word is relationship building. The BIG 3 components in social networking, in no particular order are, relationship building, your circle of influence, and viral marketing.

Relationship Building: Most people personally know at least 250 other people, and have even more acquaintances. You reached this point by building trust and credibility with the people you already know. So how do you build and maintain a social network? This too should be a relationship building strategy of establishing trust and credibility. One of the more important sayings I've heard is, "It is not what you know, it is not who you know, it is what you know about who you know." Another saying that we have all heard, "They don't care what you know until they know that you care"!

Also keep in mind relationship building creates long term relationships (for marketers that means repeat customers).

Beware of social networking errors. (1) Be sincere; (2) Don't ask for (or expect) payback; (3) Respect other people's time; (4) Follow through on promises; (5) Use special care with referred 'friends'; (6) Don't make disparaging jokes; (7) Err on the side of politeness and formality; (7) Don't wait to be properly introduced - practice a self-introduction; and (8) Say thank-you.

RECOMMENDED READING: "Social Networking Basics & Etiquette".

Your Circle of Influence: As human beings, our lives are shaped and influenced by a myriad of factors, and relationships is at the top of the list. Think about how much of "who you are today" was influenced by a specific parent, sibling, relative, teacher, coach, neighbor, author, speaker, boss, co-worker, spouse or friend. Values, habits, behavior, knowledge, skills, passions, hobbies, tastes and attitudes are typically learned through association with others. Yet, as influential as relationships are, most people haven't consciously chosen their greatest "circle of influence". More than the conscious decision to go "friend" or "mentor" hunting is the AWARENESS about your circle of influence. Just being present to the impact someone has on your state of being is powerful.

Final Point:"You Are Either Influencing or Being Influenced"

Note that influence doesn't mean pushing a point of view across. In different situations, influence can mean listening in a certain way, using facts and logic, involving others to develop a consensus, sharing a vision, offering incentives, asserting boundaries, or building up a power base.

Also, different organizations tolerate different amounts of "pushiness," depending on the situation and on the culture. By dividing the world into influencing and being influenced, and understanding the subtleties of influence conversations, you can help your clients, associates, and network friends achieve their goals.

RECOMMENDED READING: "What Powers Your Circle of Influence"

Viral Marketing Effect: I admit it. The term "viral marketing" is offensive. Call yourself a Viral Marketer and people will take two steps back. I would. "Do they have a vaccine for that yet?" you wonder. So what does a virus have to do with marketing? Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.

Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing." While others smarter than I have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, I won't try. The term "viral marketing" has stuck.

RECOMMENDED READING: "Elements of a Viral Marketing Strategy"

In conclusion, social networking is a softer sales approach. In fact, the art of social networking is based on the premise that to give is to receive. Some people get it, some don't and are quick to blame the process. In fact, they have their modus operandi backwards. They want to "get" immediately ... or at least within a week or a month of having made a new contact. Social networking isn't a shortcut to success. However, it offers an intriguing platform for customer, employee, and supplier relationship management that can serve not only existing connections but also help to identify new prospects. Social networking provides greater recognition to its most influential and active participants.

One of the challenges of mastering social networking is determining where to invest your resources, time, energy, and possibly capital. As you gain personal experience using on of the many networks, you can begin to identify, and ultimately prioritize, the universe of possible initiatives to enhance your career, your brand, your staff, and revenue.

Mastering these 3 components you will become successful with social networking campaign's.

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com

Tags: Etiquette, Influence, Marketing, Networking, Relationships, Social, Viral

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Replies to This Discussion

Excellent post. What works for me is categorizing general classes of target market. For me it is casual explorer, potential client, project client, and member client.

I especially agree with your point about immediacy. I go into social networking realizing these are relationships I need to be prepared to build on long-term.

Best,

Anthony
Hi Anthony,

Thank you for the feed-back. I especially like your "categorizing general classes of target market". Thanks for sharing.

Continued succes,
Robert Mesa
Hi Julio,

Great question, but to answer it we need to take note of the social network in question (all networks are not alike). Let's use Sta.rtUp.Biz to answer your question. If we divide the membership into three groups you can approach them as follows.

Group A: These members are on your friend's list. They confirmed to be part of your friend's group and exchange information. Therefor you can communicate with them without feeling you are intruding. Group A has agreed to be your friend and exchange information, making them your primary communication group.

Group B: These are members of "groups" you may have joined. Members of groups have shared interests. If the group's interest relates to what you have to share, go for it. Key point share only "group interest" information (products/services or otherwise). Group B is your secondary communication group.

Group C: These are members of the general population. This group either does not know about you and or has declined to associate with you (don't take it personal, some members look for shared interest only). If you have "time sensitive" information to share, this is NOT the group to start with. With Group C you should build the relationship first.

Since you read my article The BIG 3 Social Networking Components Group A & B are already part of your Relationships & Circle of Influence. You can now use them as part of your Viral Marketing efforts. Save Group C for another day (potential relationships). I hope this helps.

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Hi Konrad,

Thank you for your comments to my article. If I may address your doubts on the Social Networking focus of "getting, not giving". I agree, to many participants focus on the getting. That said, that is exactly the point of my conclusion. More likely than not, "getting, and not giving", will eventually fail. Let me ask you, how many "getters" do you know that have long term relationships? At some point those relationships will end due to being a "one-sided relationship". No need to doubt that fact.

My article's conclusion was not to judge, but to point out possible results of the members activities. Social Networking members have a choice as to their approach. Social Networking hosts have a choice as to setting the tone of the environment. Thanks again for your comments.

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Hi Julio,

Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for keeping the conversation going. And a BIG Congratulations on your success here on Sta.rtUp.Biz. I see you everywhere, and as a regular Featured Member. Congrats....

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Hey Konrad,
Have you ever read the book "The Go-Giver" by Bob Burg ? Basic 5 Laws of Massive Success -- 1. The Law of Value "Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment."
2. The Law of Compensation "Your income will be determined by how many people you serve & how well you serve them."
3. The Law of Influence "Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other's interests first."
4. The Law of Authenticity "The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself."
5. The Law of Receptivity "The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving."
The book takes a regular business go-getter & teaches him these principles that change him into a go-giver. Easy reading!!
Interesting. One of my themes is considering the change social networking implies to contemporary business to consumer relationships. There are businesses who are unknowingly being condescending to their markets by continuing to utilize sell/buy approaches on what essentially reduces to a level playing field. One way to really insult someone's intelligence is to talk at them instead of with them. However, a lot of business owners find the traditional order had some benefits in terms of time and insensitivity. For instance, you can save time by putting an article in the paper and not worry about people contacting you who are not interested. I wouldn't recommend this for a business using networking to market. Outreach needs to be intelligent, considerate, and responsive.

I've seen some businesses do a good job of channeling people to their information or content. There are some sharp ways to feed in the kind of relationships that lead to doing business. On the other hand, the unusual benefit of entertaining relationships who do not necessarily qualify as prospects is how you can indirectly be extended in to their circles of influence. So this just reiterates the importance of social networking etiquette. You still want to infect people with your attention and value in whatever way is welcomed. Perhaps when planning a viral marketing strategy, it's a good idea to consider just what and how much you are willing to both give and receive.

Best,

Anthony
Social networks are great for sharing ideas with people all over the world and being able to target your audience based on so many search criteria available. The important thing is to never overstep one's boundaries if not the trust that you can build with your potential customers/partners can be ruined. You only have one chance to make a good first impression and spawn positive word of mouth. The opposite can happen just as quickly and will spell certain doom.

Stay away from hype at all cost. Connect with people on a human level. Share info, tips, opinions just as you would if meeting someone new in person. Never beat anyone over the head with your Business Op. Too many make this mistake and ruin it for the good ones. That kind of conduct will cheapen even the most legit of opportunities. So many entrepreneurs are pitching so many things it's impossible to keep track and moreover know who is for real and who's a total scambag. If you brand yourself and a knowledgeable leader people will be attracted to what you have to say and what you could possibly offer them of value. Then you have a great opening to engage an interested person in a conversation about your Business. You'll have a much higher chance of recruiting a new partner in success that way. Relax and have fun!

Gopal (The Musical Mad Scientist and Entrepreneur)
www.boom.thevfusiongroup.biz
Hi Lorraine,

Thank you for your comments to my article. I have not read the book you mention here. But when I saw this post yesterday, I ran out to my nearest Barns & Nobel and purchased a copy for myself and 10 more for close business associates as Christmas gift. Thank you for sharing this book title with us.

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Hi Konrad,

Once again you bring up some interesting points. One I would like to address is "Long Term Relationships". First let's not confuse personal and business relationships. They are two totally different concepts. Here on Sta.rtUp.Biz it would be safe to say we are trying to build a "Business Relationship", very different than a personal relationship. A "Long Term Business Relationship" means repeat customers, not friends for life. If your lucky that could happen as well.

Most people would perfer to do business with those they can trust. "Long Term Business Relationships", requires you build trust and credibility. Build and earn that, and the hard work is done. The rest relies on your responsiveness.

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Hi Charlene,

Yes, Yes, and Yes.... Finally, I found you! I wanna have your baby. LOL Okay, we know it's not physically possible for me to have a baby. But you get my excitement. Back to my article, this is exactly what this conversation is all about. It's not about the hard sale, it's about the relationships we build and how we present ourselves. I love your description of "BEING GENUINE", on a one-one basis. You are a REAL Diamond Social Networker.

Social Networking is not form emails, buying a email list or gaining access to the whole network. That describes mass marketing, not Social Networking. Okay I'll get off my soap box.

Thank you for sharing Charlene...
Happy Holidays, and a prosperous New Year "2009".

Continued Success,
Robert Mesa
SiliconPost.Com
Thank you Robert for sharing that information. I have been looking for ways to maximize the potential for my own social network. It goes above and beyond making sure that it is aesthetically pleasing. You've got to make sure you have the content, enough entertainment, and something worth coming back to see. The three components that you mentioned are all elements that I have been working on further developing. I'm glad that I am on the right track. Awesome topic of discussion!

Mz. La~
Your Personal Fragrance Designer
LimitlessFragrances.com

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