There are a lot of talented business professionals who are experts in their field and have a great network of connections based purely on the quality of their work. However, these same professionals may not know how to communicate that quality online. Perhaps they have a website, maybe a LinkedIn presence, but their actual online activity is minimal to non-existent. Individuals like these are missing out on the huge opportunity that is social media. With some basic changes to their habits, they can begin to establish themselves as an authority on social media and start to increase their reach and, subsequently, referrals and business leads.
I know a commercial real estate professional who spends many hours a week researching industry trends, participating in industry events, and connecting with professional peers via lunches, email and phone conversations. This individual is constantly processing and formulating opinions about what he's learning, and sharing his thoughts with his peers at networking events and by email or phone. However, this same individual does not share his findings (of which he has many!) online. So while he has developed, and continues to develop, strong personal connections through non-Internet means, he is not utilizing the same skills he already has to develop connections through social media.
Here is a common example. My contact will read an article in an industry publication, formulate an opinion based on it, and send the article with some thoughts to a contact of his via email. This very same activity could be translated to Twitter and LinkedIn and multiply the individual's exposure exponentially. So, what he should do is start to think about integrating some simple social media activities into his daily patterns. He can do this very easily by adding a few applications to his phone and bookmarking a few websites on his computer.
- Smartphone or tablet
- Internet access
- Twitter and LinkedIn
- Flipboard, Feedly or similar content-curating app
- Hootsuite, Buffer or similar contest distribution app
Here's a sample schedule showing how social media can easily be incorporated into the day-to-day
9 a.m. -
Jim arrives at work and spends 15 to 20 minutes catching up on news and industry emails. He drafts an email to a peer at another company and includes a link to an article of interest saying, "Check out this article on XYZ. What would it look like if this were applied to current best practices? I think we'd see a huge increase in efficiency across the vertical."
The main suggestion here is that Jim could spend an extra 30 to 60 seconds and post this on Twitter and LinkedIn. He might start some dialogue among peers that would increase his exposure, possibly drive traffic to his website and generate a business lead.
10:45 a.m. -
Jim waits in a conference room for some colleagues to arrive. In the meantime, he checks out recent articles via Flipboard, an app on his smartphone. He really likes one article and clicks to share it on social media with a little comment about how it slightly changed his perspective on something by providing additional context. A former client reads the article and comments on Jim's observation saying she agrees. This client hasn't worked with Jim recently and he makes a note to phone the former client and catch up. Keeping the relationship fresh could mean new work for Jim.
12:00 p.m. -
Jim meets with former alumni at a quarterly event and they catch up on old times and new projects. They discuss other events and publications they are keeping up on and decide to form a LinkedIn group to share resources and communicate in between events. By regularly checking in on the LinkedIn group, Jim makes his ongoing learning process more efficient by partnering with other similar professionals, and he deepens his connections with them by engaging through commenting and sharing.
3 p.m. -
Since Jim is active on Twitter, he gets notified about a Twitter chat happening the next day. The discussion is focused around Jim's particular areas of expertise. He marks his calendar to participate in the chat, just as if he were scheduling a conference call.
5:45 p.m. -
Before Jim leaves the office, he checks LinkedIn and notices that an important connection has changed jobs. He makes a note to catch up with the person the following day. That way, as the person transitions into his new job, Jim and the contact can remain in touch about future opportunities.
Jim can accomplish all of this by adding just a few applications to his mobile device and bookmarking a few websites on his computer. The overall addition of work will only take about 30 minutes a day depending on how often Jim posts. The majority of his thoughts have already been articulated as he shares with his contacts in his traditional way. He will just need to adjust, depending on the platform he shares on (for example, 140 character limit for tweets). But these 30 minutes each day will exponentially increase his online influence, website traffic and online lead generation for his business.
As you spend more time on social media, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Read this post on how to avoid social media burnout.