The good and the bad about social media is that there aren’t any firm rules. You can choose how you want to use it, post whatever you want, connect — or not– with whomever you want. For example, some use LinkedIn to connect only with those they already know, and some use it to expand their network and are willing to accept invitations from anybody. Both approaches are totally valid and the best one for you depends on the goals of your business.
But, just because there aren’t any firm rules, doesn’t mean there aren’t some best practices you should be following. If your intention is to use social media to build your business, then focus on activities that advance your cause, and stop doing or minimize everything else. If you’re killing hours of time playing games or watching videos of kittens, and then complaining that social media takes too much time and doesn’t work for you, you should re-evaluate what you are doing.
And this lack of rules leaves some people a little lost. In every social media workshop I’ve attended, those who aren’t active yet say they haven’t jumped in because they really don’t want to post what they’ve had for breakfast that morning. And yes, if you feel compelled to post things like that, then please don’t bother. But there’s so much information that you could be sharing.
What you need to do is ask yourself these 3 questions:
1) What can I share to enhance my credibility? The majority of your posts should be intended to increase your reputation as an expert in your field. That means sharing articles and resources — your own and from others — that your followers would find helpful. It’s perfectly okay to share something personal every once in a while, that’s what adds dimension to your profile and helps people connect with you on other levels, especially if they share your same interest.
2) What can I share to help me stay in touch? Social media makes it easy to keep in touch with so many people in your network in just minutes a day. On Facebook, you can see which of your friends is having a birthday. On LinkedIn you can see who just got promoted or changed jobs. It takes just seconds to say “happy birthday” or “congratulations” or to “like” a post. It’s like tapping someone on the shoulder and saying “Hi, I noticed you today.”
3) What can I share that will help someone else? Again, it takes seconds to share a link or retweet a post on social media, which means that in seconds, you can help someone in your network spread their message. No matter how busy they may be, they’ll notice you in a very positive way because you’ve helped them. Every little touch point helps strengthen your relationship over the long term.
Hopefully this simple but powerful framework will help you become more visible and relevant in your industry and to the people in your network, and spark many more opportunities to advance your goals.
© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLCWANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online, shows accomplished business professionals how to connect to the right people and attract the opportunities they deserve. To become a more visible leader in your organization or industry, visit www.LizLynchOnline.com.”