Networking can juice up your company

Sunday Times article 21.09.14

Face to face contact combined with a smart social media strategy can give firms an edge, writes Sandra O’Connell.Marketing consultant and Enterprise Ireland mentor Aisling Foley

Marketing consultant and Enterprise Ireland mentor Aisling Foley teaches companies how to build and leverage online… In cases where business owners do take the plunge, they often get it wrong, she said. They use social networks to talk about themselves. “In fact, 80% of what you tweet or blog about should be material of interest or benefit to your customer.”

 

Excerpt….

Marketing Consultant and Enterprise Ireland mentor Aisling Foley teaches companies how to build and leverage online. “Most of my work is with tech start-ups and those guys “get it”, but very often those in more long-established SMEs have a fear of online networking,” said Foley.

In cases where business owners do take the plunge, they often get it wrong, she said. They use social networks to talk about themselves. “In fact, 80% of what you tweet or blog about should be material of interest or benefit to your customer.”

If you decide to engage in online marketing, then commit to it,” said Foley. “If you’re not going to continue with a blog or Twitter account, don’t start,” she added. It’s not quite that it will do you more harm than good to start and then stop it, but it’s not far off in the current environment. People might just assume you’ve gone under.”

Foley believes that blogging is the best way to build networks, yet she recommends that business owners blog no more than once every 3 or 4 weeks. (Note from me: weekly is best but I know time is precious, so I recommend a minimum of every 3 weeks).  A good well-linked and jargon free blog can quadruple hits on a website the day it comes out.

For consumer facing businesses Facebook encourages interaction with the customers and between the customers themselves. For B2B companies however, LinkedIn is the top online social networking tool, according to Foley.

She urges business owners to be selective. “Only connect with people you know, either that you have met, or spoken to on the phone,” she said. “Don’t connect with people you don’t know. When you do connect, say why that person might want to connect with you – don’t just press the button. Put a note in saying “Let’s connect, I can help you with x.””

LinkedIn Groups, a platform for special interest groups, in particular, facilitate networking. “People use them and read them, and so if you have a blog and post a link to it in a group, then people are more likely to come to you.”

Twitter overarches both consumer facing and B2B online networks, said Foley. “Remember, it’s all about community,” she added. “So while you are posting links to your blog, make sure you refer to other peoples as well.”

Networking isn’t just to grow a cohort of contacts of “B2B” channels such as LinkedIn. It’s about the quality of the contacts, not the quantity, she added.

Virtual networking should really support face-to-face events and organisations such as local chamber of commerce, not replace them. “It is far easier to network from behind a computer screen, but you really do need to talk to people too,” said Foley.

Read the full article featuring Revive Active, an Enterprise Ireland client and Aisling Foley, B2B tech marketing consultant and Enterprise Ireland mentor.

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