Social media and networking are definitely the buzzwords right now, but while many are splashing about in the water, in varying degrees, still there remains a vast sea of people out there in bricks and mortar businesses who really don't know it exists yet, or if they do, think it is probably something for other people... not them.
Robert Scoble has some interesting explanations for Social Media on his blog and that's probably a good point to start on coming to understand the whole social business network potential. Social media allows us to interact, and share ideas and do it in a way that is world-wide and immediate. Using this social media for business networking opens up a whole galaxy of opportunities to better get to know the people we network with and in contexts that would be impossible just in face-to-face encounters at the local Business Chamber. We can share ideas, share links to complex ideas presented online, and share that experience in a way that would be impossible to communicate, just by telling someone about the information expressed on that link. We can share and we can have a permanent repository for those links and ideas that we can save if we so wish, and keep as a permanent resource.
But the media we use in our social business networking need not be limited to just a website, or a blog, or a group like Facebook. We can have profiles on different platforms, and friends on multiple platforms, as each allows for a slightly different context in which to know that person. Sometimes we may know them in one network, and only later discover things about their interests, because of a preference, or passion that is revealed in a totally different context on another network. My business aquaintance that I've known personally for many years, I discover has a secret passion for butterflies! Who knew? That's not the kind of thing that we'd be likely to discover at the BNI. But did you know... someone else I know has the same passion! And maybe they'd like to meet - I would do well to introduce them.
Social Business Networking allows us to make connections that we would never have made any other way. It allows us to expand our reach to people around the world. Now for some they may think that they have a local business, and why would they need to know people around the world? The reason is simple. Our expertise being recognised is important to us and very often it is the people who are not in our immediate orbit, who often are the first to recognise it. This influence on others far away that we may carry, can itself carry enormous weight with those who are closest to us and had not realised how special you are. Now they want to know more too!
One can never have enough supporters. Never have enough people who are behind you and are willing to promote you and your business, and vouch for your expertise. Remember. It is always "the prophet without" - the expert from outside the local circle - that people take notice of. Sometimes becoming that ... will grant you more impact in your local sphere of influence.
Of course, it never hurts to be open to new ideas, and new ways of doing things. Social business networking can open doors to opportunity, but also open the doors of your mind to new ideas, new ways to use old ideas, and new friends with whom to explore this fantastic world of ours.
Active participation in your social business network is the the means to do all of that.
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