So I have spent a week or two openly embracing social media as a way of generating new leads, making new contacts and generally getting my new business name out there. Its been an interesting experience and definitely something that I will continue to do. There is however one observation that I have made which whilst it has come as a surprise is really not a surprise.
Many moons ago and for a large part of the first six years of my business I used to be an active member of the networking group BNI. For a time it served its purpose well and the leader of BNI was the oracle of all things networking, Ivan Misner. His mantra for all BNI’er and for all networking was the term Givers Gain. or in other words, if I give you business, you will give me business.
He is right, and within all the offline networking I do I have kept that as a core methodology as to how I network. It is not even just something I do at networking events. What I have realised is that I naturally want to help people and I presume, because I do, I am trusted(and hopefully respected) and therefore get business refered back to me.
Now though, I was starting to delve into online networking and social media and for some reason it did not occur to me that the same rules apply and I think that still people do not realise that.
For example when I first started I would be tweeting boring links to boring articles by boring people about subjected that I thought would portray me as someone who ‘knew about IT’. As soon as I started helping people and giving back, I started to get refered new business – Givers Gain..
Another element about social media that I have learnt, and to a certain extent works to my advantage is that I totally wear my heart on my sleeve. Until very recently I had kept my personal Facebook page and business Twitter account totally separate. I decided to scrap that idea and use a program called Tweetdeck to update both my personal Facebook and my personal Twitter together, scrapping the business twitter address.
Someone said to me , “do you really want your clients and potential clients knowing everything about you, EVEN the stuff you put on Facebook?” The fact is that I already have a great relationship with my clients, most of them know what I do out of work anyway as I talk to them about that stuff when I’m with them in any case. To a certain extent that is what make me, me and what makes my business have the personality that it does. With regards to new clients, I doubt I would want to deal with someone who didn’t get my sense of humour anyway…
On a side note I was going to rename the business to Clarity. Very smart very abstract and very corporate but I simply could not get excited about it as it not reflect ME(On the flip side The Amazing Support Company and all the conversations I have about underwear DOES!).
So what I think I have learnt from this is that your personality online, needs to be what it is offline. people very quickly see through it as they would in real life. My only concern is for people who don’t like to give much away and who are not that open. In an offline world they can often warm up in a face to face environment but in Social Media the you often want to get to know the person first before that initial conversation.