Saturday, October 27, 2012
The Difference Between Social Networking For Business and Personal Use
I'm "friends" with a lot of resume writers and careers industry professionals on Facebook, I "follow" lots of you guys on Twitter, and I'm "connected" with many folks on LinkedIn ... and in the course of participating in these social networks, I've noticed there's sometimes confusion between "business" social networking and "regular" (personal) social networking. Business social networking is more than just using social networks to grow your resume writing business. It represents a completely different mindset and approach to social networks.
What Is Business Social Networking?
Business social networking is social networking for the express purpose of making new contacts for your careers industry business and furthering your business development efforts using social networking tools.
In other words, you're not there just to "hang out," to post pictures, to make random comments, or to garner as many likes as possible. Instead, you're looking to connect with prospects, clients, and influential people who can help you improve your life and business in some meaningful way.
It's Goal Oriented on Both Sides
One key difference between "regular" and "business" social networking is that there's a goal on both sides. You're dealing with clients, prospective clients, media contacts (journalists, bloggers), and careers industry colleagues who all have a goal.
Nobody is on these social networks to waste time (and this includes business networking on Facebook). This completely changes the "vibe" of the whole experience. The idea is to create win/win relationships and situations online as quickly as possible, then get back to business. You might be sharing ideas, information, or content -- but it is oriented towards achieving a specific goal (even if that goal is simply to create a stronger connection with someone).
The Favor Bank Is Important
In the standard world of social networking, the favor bank doesn't really exist. Nobody expects you to like their content back if they come over and like yours. (Except for birthday wishes on Facebook and Endorsements on LinkedIn!)
In the business world, however, the favor bank is a very important thing to keep in mind. If you help introduce a resume writing colleague to a career coach in their area, both the resume writer and the career coach "owe" you a favor. Or if you share their content with your business social networking audience (which might be bigger than theirs), they may feel they "owe you one"
It's not a one-to-one trade. Nobody keeps exact score. But you'll generate a lot of goodwill. Next time you need a referral, a retweet, or a LinkedIn recommendation, they're most likely going to say yes. After all, they want you to owe them in their favor bank as well.
The Long-Term Value of Business Social Networking
Standard social networking is mostly about the "right now." It's about posting what comes to mind, liking what you see, and spontaneous interactions.
Business social networking, on the other hand, can have a much more long-term outlook. You build a relationship with prospective clients long before you try to make a sale. If you're looking for a subcontractor relationship with a resume writing colleague, you follow what they're posting on their business social networks (Facebook business page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn personal profile and company page) and engage with them through those channels.
Business social networking can help introduce you to new people, but it can also help you cultivate and build relationships with people you already know. If you meet a colleague at a conference, or attend one of their teleseminars, follow their business page in addition to friending them on Facebook.
As you can tell, the world of business to business social networking is very different than the layman's social network. There's a goal orientation. Time is more scarce. People are out to help each other and long-term relationships matter.