Here is a simple guide to Social Networking.

SOCIAL WHAT?
Social Networks like Linked-In and Facebook are part of Social Media, the hottest sector in marketing today. Social Media is different than traditional media (like advertising) in that the conversation is two-way. This includes blogs, microblogs (like Twitter), viral video (like YouTube), podcasts and photo sharing (like Flickr). For this issue, we’ll focus on Linked-In but the advice is relevant on any social network. My goal is that you will learn a little about this channel and decide if it supports your overall marketing strategy.

WHY?
If you’ve ever attended a Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) event, you know that A/E/C Marketers are social animals. The foundation of our industry is built on personal relationships. People (and firms) hire people (and firms) they know and trust. People will also hire, or team with, people (and firms) that have been recommended by trusted peers. So your personal network of contacts is an incredibly valuable asset. The bigger your network of quality connections, the more influence you wield. Linked-In is a great way to build and maintain your network.

People want to connect. The 36 million people on Linked-in enjoy being part of micro-communities around shared interests. Specialization will separate firms that thrive versus those that merely survive in the new economy. Narrowcasting is the future. Broadcasting your message as a wide net and hoping to catch a client is futile in our industry. When’s the last time you’ve seen a TV ad for an architecture firm? People listen to and trust their friends, not TV ads.

WAYS TO UTILIZE LINKED-IN
• Post presentations (.ppt, pdf., etc.) about what you are working on
• Do research on job candidates by querying their connections
• Post examples of your work: project photography or case studies
• Explore teaming opportunities with likeminded firms
• Incorporate your blog into your Linked-In profile
• Research competitors or new market sectors
• Use the Answers function to request help from your contacts
• Create a link in your e-mail signature to your Linked-In profile
• Dedicate 1 hour/week to building relationships and connections
• Practice random acts of kindness: write recommendations for others
• Treat your followers and connections as VIPs with special offers or advice
• Survey contacts about your company’s performance or image

WHAT NOT TO DO
• Lifecasting – we don’t care what you had for breakfast
• Appearing like you have no life outside of updating your profile
• Too much self promotion or sales pitching (Balance giving with getting)
• Not having a strategy (know what are you trying to accomplish)
• Not synchronizing your social media strategy with traditional media
• Letting IT establish your social media presence. This is a marketing function.
• Thinking you are broadcasting when it’s really all about narrowcasting
• Being too stiff and using corporatespeak
• Behaving like an ass and thinking you have some sort of on-line immunity

If you, like many, are wondering what to do with a Linked-In account, register for my upcoming webinar: Linked-In for Marketers: a tour and tips

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LecoursDesign is a branding and digital marketing agency helping A/E/C* firms attract clients and talent.
* A/E/C = Architecture / Engineering Construction (but you already knew that)
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