This is the second in a series exploring the keys to achieving business benefits in social media:

Connections + Meaningful Content + Authentic Helpfulness = Business Benefits.
Now, we’re going to dive into each element to build a strategy for YOUR social media success! Today we start with CONNECTIONS.
Think of the social media landscape as a garden … being planted in a desert! To get something to grow, you need to plant a LOT of seeds, which are your connections. Then you’re going to water those connections with meaningful content and authentic helpfulness, which I will cover in subsequent articles.
I’ll give you seven delicious ingredients for the business connection recipe, but before I do, I’d like you to consider two things 1) What is the profile of your best customers, and 2) Where are they likely to be hanging out? If you can answer those questions, your quest for great business connections will be so much more successful! Here are two resources to help you out (click links)
CUSTOMER PROFILING
FINDING YOUR CUSTOMER “TRUCKSTOP”
OK, let’s mix up a fresh batch of social media business connections:
1) The Advanced Search feature on Linked-In is your best connection-finding buddy. You can find high-potential connections by location, company, industry, even business title. Offer to link with these people as a first step toward building your targeted audience.
2) Participate in Linked-in groups and forums. What better way to build relationships than to get involved with online groups of like-minded professionals? So many people sign up for Linked-In and forget about it. Get your skin in the game and actively ENGAGE new connections. A new national contract of mine began with a lady who liked my answers on Linked-In!
3) Find online journals related to your industry. Look for comments that interest you. In the comment section, note who is there – their comments often point readers to their Twitter name, Facebook or Linked-In page. Connect to them. Engage.
4) Use Twellow to find targeted industry connections who are actively involved in Twitter. There is a related app on this site that you can use to search people by state or city, which is so important if you are a small business serving a targeted geographic area.
5) Steal contacts from your competitors. If you can find your competitors on social media channels, you can also find their links and followers. This is public information for all to see and so it is perfectly acceptable. P.S. They can do the same thing to you!
6) Use http://my.peoplebrowsr.com/ to do high-powered searches for relevant Twitter users by just about any demographic category you can think of.
7) Have you participated in Twitter “discussions” on subjects related to your area of interest? These discussions are demarcated with a hashtag (#) so you can search for the term and follow the trail of the discussion, whether you are following the people or not. Here’s an example. In the search field in the right hand column of Twitter, I searched for #SMROI because I want to find people who are talking about social media and ROI. I will see a timeline of the discussion and all the people who are participating. Follow them!

There are hundreds of ways to build targeted contacts but these are a few ideas that have worked for me and my clients. What is working for you? Please share in the comment section below.

This article is part of a series on creating business benefits through social media. Other posts:
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