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USING THE POWER OF THE HE INTERNET TO NETWORKINTERNET TO NETWORK
If you've been trying to grow your business by attending as many “meet and greets” as you can, you'll be happy to discover a better way: social networking. Online social network sites, whether they are networks like Facebook or Twitter, or social news sites like Digg, offer a myriad of opportunities to meet and greet people all around the world, instead of just your little corner of it.
These days, getting online can help you market yourself by increasing your business exposure and helping you create core groups of friends and acquaintances online without having to even gas up your car. You can build a demographic of people interested in your products and services, and you can learn where these people congregate too. The power of the Internet can work exponentially to build exposure as people start to gather online and network virtually.
The backbone of a good marketing campaign in the contact list, and it's no different on the Internet. Without a contact list, you don't know who is interested enough to buy your products. Typically, the list can be composed of people who have already bought your products, or who expressed interest in your business by being put on a mailing list. Online, your email manager can hold your contact list, and on social networking sites, it can be your fans or friends that join you or follow you online. It can be anyone within your demographic who has a potential to be a customer later too.
Unlike a list that people sign up to in a retail store, online people are going to look at your profile first to decide whether they want to befriend you or subscribe to your blog. You have to have some way to sell yourself online, and that's typically through the profile and content of your website. And, you have to make it easy for them to sign up.
Before you can even start to network or create a contact, you have to introduce yourself. In real life, you would look someone in the eye as you firmly shook their hand, and told them who you are. Online, you have to try to do the equivalent, except that you don't actually meet the other person. It's all virtual.
So, you want to make a good impression, even when you are not online, because you never know when someone will stop by. For that, you need to put some careful thought into your profile and always include a picture of yourself. You wouldn't try to meet a prospective customer with a bag over your head or a picture of a cartoon pasted on it in real life, and doing that on the Internet just makes it seem you don't want to be genuine.
Authenticity on social networks is highly valued, and the more you project the image of who you really are, the better chance that you will link up with people who share your values and interests. This is particularly important online, where anyone can become your friend, even if they may have no interest whatsoever in who you are, or what you do. So, you need to focus your profile information and anything that you put online to develop the demographic that you want.
You want to make sure everything you do helps you to tie into the demographics that are most likely to help your Internet marketing, if that's your aim. For that, you have to already have a good idea of who has an interest in your products and services. Then, increase your exposure with that crowd by joining groups, attending online events, and befriending these people. Go where this group goes and make your presence felt online by commenting, adding a link, and being personable.
You can also attract your demographic by helping to disseminate information helpful to this group, even if it's not your own copy. You can post URLs and keep people updated on things that interest them. Then, they will come to your profile when they want news on particular topics of interest to them.
Once you know you're attracting the right people into your fold, you can start to network some more online. You can join blogs or create your own blog. You can create a sales page on Facebook. You can hold a non-profit fundraiser online. You can get noticed by the mainstream media. You might even go viral. Any activity that you do online ends up being residual content that stays up for the life of that website, adding to your credibility and fan base. Every year, you can end up making more and more contacts, just through the sheer power of inertia, in that something that you put in motion will stay in motion until a greater force stops it.
But, this doesn't just happen all by itself. In order to network successfully, you have to adopt a strategy that is going to get you noticed. You have to be consistent in posting and keeping up with people who comment, fan, befriend, or follow you online. When you are first starting up, it is going to take some time to promote yourself online, but once you start getting the hang of it, it becomes easier and easier.
Online promotion is as hard or as easy as you make it. Having a little money to start can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend promoting your content and yourself online. Otherwise, you will have to be the person adding information and keeping up with everything. But, even then, promotion online is far easier than promoting yourself in a real life situation, because the power of the Internet increases your visibility.
Think about trying to get noticed in at a convention where 300 vendors are all competing for the few thousand of people who show up. All the noise and distraction might make it likely that you end up with fifty people noticing you, if you just stand in your booth and wait for people to walk buy. If you decide to add some element that increases your attractiveness, like a giveaway contest at your booth, then you might end up attracting 100 or more, doubling the amount of attention. Now, if you have four or five sales people in your booth and they each go to different areas of the floor and peddle your booth's offerings, they might persuade more people to visit, as they promote the giveaway contest. But, still, you are going to be limited by how many people actually walk to your booth and how many people enter your contest, to determine how many contacts you make that day.