In today’s competitive business-to-business marketplace, professionals in service businesses – law, accounting, finance and technology – are often required to serve as ambassadors for their companies at events for networking in the community, and to speak and write to build reputation and presence. Some embrace the chance to meet new people and seek business synergy, while others find business-building a challenging endeavor that takes them out of their comfort zones.
However, when it comes to using social media as a tactical public relations tool, there is still a major tide of resistance. For many professionals, the thought that they may have to check something besides email on a regular basis and learn how to navigate a new technology program is daunting. Instead, professionals should love the chance to generate awareness, reinforce their brand, and keep themselves and their companies top of mind – easily and efficiently – through social media.
I find that the main barrier to entry for savvy and smart professionals is a lack of understanding of the benefits they will reap from a small investment of time. Yes, we know a legitimate LinkedIn profile, for instance, should have a photo and complete biographical information, including short descriptions of skills and capabilities. Yet, beyond just hitting the “accept” button when asked to connect, professionals often fail to grasp the amazing business advantages of social media resources such as LinkedIn: chances for fruitful follow-up from face-to-face meetings; increasing exposure and extending your reach to target audiences; and gathering of vital competitive intelligence and go-to-market material.
I often hear professionals lament that they have attended a seminar, event for networking or trade show but never “get anything from them.” They meet people and have a few significant conversations throughout the night and, sometimes, even send one or two follow-up emails saying how nice it was to chat. They might offer to rendezvous for coffee, lunch or drinks. After that, the relationship often loses momentum. No one wants to hard-sell newfound friends or harass them for a lunch date.