In part one of this blog post I discussed the different ways to build relationships via conversations on Facebook and on Blogs. Read more here.
Conversation is the best way to build business relationships. Have you ever been to a networking meeting? If it’s a big one you probably come home with a pocket stuffed with business cards. Most you will never look at again, many will end up in the bin. It’s the people you meet over and over you remember. You might meet them at networking meetings again or you may arrange to meet up for coffee and a chat. Online we need to replicate this offline relationship building and that is where conversation really helps.
Here’s some ideas for getting those conversations:
Linkedin is the business network. It’s a fantastic place to connect with other businesses who may either require your services or recommend you to others. The first step is to connect to the people you know. If you go to a networking event and get chatting to someone request to connect to them the next day, look up your current customers and connect with them also. Immediately you have built a network of people to get to know further.
- Status updates – Now you are connected to people you will see updates from them appear on your Linkedin home page. Make a habit of scrolling through these on a daily basis and liking and commenting on things that you find interesting. If the post might be of interest to your other connections share it on as well.You should also make a point of updating your own status on a regular basis with professional news and links to content about your industry that will spark discussions with your connections.
- Groups – Groups are where all the magic happens on Linkedin. Groups are essentially discussion forums on specific topics. Use the search function within Linkedin to find groups that may be industry specific or one of the excellent business forums that are out there. If you are stuck for one to join have a look at the profiles of some of your connections and see which groups they are a member of.
- Endorsements – I’ve written about endorsements before. I’m not a huge fan but they can be used well. If you endorse someone make sure you are endorsing them for something that you know they are good at. They will get an email from Linkedin every time they are endorsed so it’s another good way to remind them you exist.
- Private messages – Linkedin will send you updates when your connections change their profiles, when they endorse you and when they have business anniversaries. Use this as an opportunity to get in touch with them via private messages to congratulate or thank them, re-kindling your relationship with them.
It’s easier on Twitter than any other network to get into conversations. It’s part of what I love about Twitter, you can tweet anyone you want to whether it be Stephen Fry or the local shop. Getting into conversations will improve your follower count and help you get to know people who can help spread your message. Various social media practitioners have set different ratios that they believe you should use for promoting via conversing and sharing content from other users. It tends to sit at about 30% promotion and 70% conversation. It’s a hard ratio to reach so don’t worry if you aren’t there yet. The key is to make conversation an important part of your Tweeting.
- Set targets – If you are not good at small talk or if you are shy you may need to set yourself goals for conversation. Start with something small, I often recommend new tweeters attempt to get into two conversations a day. This could be as simple as saying good morning to someone or commenting on the weather. Good relationships often start with small talk so it’s a good place to start your social media conversations too.
- Twitter search – Twitter search and Twitter advanced search are fantastic tools for finding people and conversations. Advanced search allows you to search locally as well as for key words and phrases. Add a ‘?’ to your search and you will find people asking questions.
- Twitter chats – Twitter chats happen when a group of people go online at a specific time to discuss a specific topic. In order to join in you just need to follow the #tag and tweet using the tag. They are a great way to meet new tweeters, get into conversations and build relationships. If you want to give it a go tune into #blogchatie every second Thursday at 9pm (GMT – currently daylight saving at GMT+1), The next one is on 23rd May 2013.If Blogging isn’t your thing you might find one that you’d enjoy from this comprehensive list.
- ReTweets – A good way to break the ice with a new contact could be to RT some of their content. Choose stuff that is relevant to your target market and use the ‘quote tweet‘ option if you are using mobile or the old fashioned RT method if you want to be sure they know you shared.
- Lists – If you are following a lot of people on Twitter you may find it hard to keep up with tweets from the people you really want to see. If this is a problem for you it’s a good idea to set up a few lists. You could have one of your favorite tweeters, the people that you want to build relationships with. Once they are in a list you can choose to view just the tweets from those people. It’s a really good way to stay in touch with the people you really have to.
Although Pinterest is a visual network it can still be a great place to find people and conversations.
- Comments – I find that I rarely get a comment on Pinterest but when I do I really pay attention. Essentially Pinterest is a place to share images so conversation seems hard to slot in. However if you find an image you like why not comment on it, you will usually get a response and that is the spark of a business relationship.
- Likes & RePins – Although commenting isn’t huge on Pinterest, Likes and RePins happen a lot. Just like Twitter by RePinning and liking you will be alerting a user to your existence. Always remember to keep your RePinning relevant to your business and target market.
Are people using Google+? Yes they are but it’s still a lot less crowded a space than Facebook and Twitter. I don’t spend a lot of time there but whenever I do I find something of interest. The lack of a crowd can be an advantage, it makes it easier to get involved in conversations.
- Search – I really, really love the search on Google+, you can type anything into the search box, a sport, a book you are reading, a band or something obscure. Whatever it is you will find someone talking about it. Because updates aren’t limited to 140 characters like Twitter it’s easier to get into proper conversations. You can comment directly on a post giving you the opportunity to connect with more than just the original poster but also the other people in the comment thread. This is absolutely the best thing about Google+
- Circles – Circles work in a similar way to Twitter lists and Facebook Interest Lists. You can group people together relating to specific topics or related to how you know them. The obvious circles to create have always been friends, relatives etc but you should look at setting one up for experts in your industry, customers, competitors and people you would like to get to know. You can then filter your feed by circle to ensure you are talking to the people you really want to.
- Communities – Communities are similar to Linkedin Groups, they are topic specific discussion groups. Their a great place to meet like minded people and get into discussion and conversation. There are communities based on every topic available so take time to find a few that will be relevant to your business.
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