Business Development via Social Networks

Several people, including my wife, have asked me why I do things like Twitter, update my Facebook status, and blog about where I’m going and what I’m interested in. I always believed it was a combination of sharing with my friends (who might learn about a conference, event, or topic from my posts), “eating my own dogfood” (how can you learn about Social Media without fully participating), and, of course a small dose of ego. But at least three recent happy incidents have proven to me that there is business value in doing what I’m doing.

Keeping Loose Ties Active
At a recent holiday party thrown by Larry Aronson, I ran into a person I’ve always liked but never spent much time with. We serve together on the board of NYSIA and he’s a VC (I guess this narrows it down). He came up to me and my wife, and, after the usual greetings, said “I haven’t seen you in a while but I feel I know what you’re up to because I follow you on Facebook. I see your twitters, your blog posts, and pictures, and I feel like we’re in touch.”
Well, my wife’s jaw dropped. Here’s someone who has lots of money to invest, works with companies I admire, and just by participating in Facebook I’m keeping him interested. This hasn’t lead to a direct lead, but it validates my strategy.

Shared Interest Leads to A Pitch
Recently I stated I ‘might attend’ the “Graphing Social Patterns” event put on by Dave McClure and O’Reilly. It’s certainly something I’d like to do, but I’m not sure I will be able to swing it due to scheduling. However, it showed in the Facebook news feed of a college friend who I had connected to, but haven’t spoken with in about seven years. He messaged me on Facebook and asked if I was interested in Social Media, as he had been tasked with looking into it for his company. Through a series of messaging exchanges, it has led from a phone call to an opportunity to pitch his company on Social Media Consulting services from my company, the Harbrooke Group. While the contract is still not signed, I never would have had the opportunity to pitch without updating my social status.

LinkedIn Links a client with a Fortune 500 in 4 hours
Recently I was able to do small bit of consulting with the excellent Truman Company from the Boston area. They are working on behalf of a Fortune 500 client who wanted a connection with, of all companies, LinkedIn. After leaving the call, I used my own LinkedIn network to find Mario Sundar, LinkedIn’s excellent community evangelist. Via Mario we got to the correct person at LinkedIn, and had a conference call scheduled in about half a day. It seems obvious, but the networks we build by connecting to people can and should be used to create connections that create value for our clients, our friends, and ourselves.

How have Social Media networks and connections improved your business? Comment or send me a note.

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