Building meaningful business connections through social media

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)
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 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:

All posts

  • Dia

    Great post!
    I really enjoy reading your insight on social media and the series on ROI.

    I'm not sure if I agree with needing to plant a LOT of connections. It is the quality in making personal connections with people, and businesses, that truly matters. Instead of planting a lot of seeds to grow those connections, why not plant a few and tend to them carefully? Those few will grow into the multitudes you want.


    Dia, I think that is a very interesting and certainly valid perspective.

    Here was my thinking. If you are engaging in social media for business purposes, my assumption is you want to create business benefits. I usually come from a B2B mindset and in the "real world" you may have to make a lot of sales calls over a long period of time to generate just one valid lead.

    Even if you have great service and a great product, timing, budget and prior contractual obligations may conspire to keep you out. It's usually best to have a number of possibities in the pipeline.

    Likewise in social media, it's a numbers game. You just can;t have a meaningful connection with EVERYONE for whatever reason. I do completely agree with you that if you do a good job thinking about your customer profile, their needs and where they aggregate, you will have much fewer, but much higher-quality connections.

    Thanks so much for this very wise observation!

  • Anonymous

    Little uncomfortable with the stealing your competitor's leads bit. Yes, it is public information but in other business settings stealing leads would be unethical.

  • linkama

    To Dia: I think you can draw some wisdom from the realm of direct mail (you know, the thing companies used to do before SM 🙂 — the usual pull of a DM shot is, roughly speaking, somewhere between 1 and 3 percent. Apply that to the number of prospects you want to attract, and you'll see it really is a numbers game.

    To Anonymous: I think Mark's using language he tells about in the post "Fair Skies with a 100% Chance of Dipshit" here… It's not stealing, really. If you find someone interesting among someone else's connections, why not start following them on Twitter, establish connection on LinkedIn and so on? Saves you a lot of time searching for people and gives you prequalified contacts.


    I did not mean to offend anbody with the "stealing" terminology. I would never, ever advocate actually stealing anything.

    The point is that we all have to be careful with our public persona and all the information that surrounds it. If competitors are sloppy in how they manage that, by all means take advantage of it. That's fair game.

    Thanks for your contribution, Kimmo.

  • great stuff Mark, just followed you on twitter…..
    I just spent halloween weekend with my hometown friends…this is OCTOBER 2010, and they still don’t understand why I use twitter….none of them use it….they think its a waste of time

    I absolutely love social media, i am meeting new and fun people every day – as well as expanding my business network….

    trying to spread the word! good stuff


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