I was speaking recently to a group of business owners and someone raised his hand and sheepishly spoke words that I’m sure a lot of people in the room were thinking, “Twitter and Facebook are a waste of time!”
Social networking seems to be discussed everywhere. But should it be part of business? Or just a personal, fun fixation that is sweeping the nation.
What do you think? Here are a few things to consider:
- I realize that “time” is a limited resource in business. For the most part, a large portion of the price of goods and services is time. If you or one of your employees wastes time, while you’re paying their salary, you’re throwing money away. Keeping this in mind, I would consider this discussion very important! I’ll never advocate the disposal of even a few minutes when it comes to running your business. So maybe social networking shouldn’t be considered.
- All business activity can’t be directly tied to profit. Entrepreneurs know that out of seemingly random conversations spring work. Those that criticize tweeting (the act of posting on twitter) would have a hard time saying that playing golf with a client (or potential client) is also a waste of time. There are thousands of sales stories that involve closing a pitch while choosing a club on the 16th hole. But does that mean your whole business should rely on golf? Absolutely not. The same can be said about social networking. A business needs to have sound business and sales strategy — and that can (and should) involve Facebook, twitter or any of the other social networking websites.
- Relationship is everything. Period. We all know that “traditional” sales relies on a relationship and continuing that relationship. Those “touch” points needs to be enhanced continuously so that the sales cycle (when it arises) points to you. Social networking allows a connection to be maintained in expectation for a question to raised in passing; or when the time for purchase arrives, YOU will be the choice. People buy from “friends” faster than from a stranger.
- It’s worth a try. Consider that a person in your organization suggests to you that they could create a way to have regular contact with clients. And the most interesting thing is that every time this employee talks to clients, all the friends of clients “overhear” the sales pitch. You of course are aware that people of like interests tend to flock together, so you eagerly await how your employee will do this — and how much it’ll cost. You know that this could turn into MANY people that would be interested in YOUR product/service. (LinkedIn, a popular business networking site, says that my 40+ direct contacts opens up a network of almost 200,000 people that I have the ability to reach every time I post something). So how much is it worth to you!? The interesting thing about social networking is that the “engine” is already created. It’s free to use. Notice I didn’t say it’s totally free to your company. Because we need to realize that the time involved is expensive (see #1). But it’s an investment. And well worth it as PART of an overall strategy.
So, go for it. Remember that relationships take time but they pay off. If they don’t, take the time to review how you’re using social networking. And like all sales strategies, don’t be scared to scale it back.
No matter how you look at it, it’s worth the try. Let me know how you’re using it — and what has or hasn’t worked for your organization!