The 3C’s of Social Networking

For any small business to grow, it needs to continually extend its reach, enhance its relevance, and expand its relationships. Social networking is a critical tool that will help you do each of these things to build a “community of conversations” with your current and prospective customers.
Most entrepreneurs can identify with needing the 3C’s of life – being calm, cool, and collective. However, these are not the only 3C’s entrepreneurs need to be familiar with. The 3C’s I’m talking about relate to the three positive benefits I have experienced since strategically incorporating social networking into my business activities:
  1. Connections – I can find and virtually “meet” more prospective customers in shorter amounts of time. I have also reconnected with many friends and acquaintances from high school and college who now are also potential customers.
  2. Communication – I can build my brand more easily, effectively and inexpensively through the key messages I disseminate to my target market by using these technologies. Also, because they are accessible from my Blackberry, I’m able to do it without being tied down to my laptop.
  3. Collaboration – I can brainstorm new ideas in real time with other entrepreneurs and individuals to develop new solutions and business applications.
The main social networking platforms I use are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have had a LinkedIn profile for a couple of years, but I didn’t fully leverage its capabilities until recently. I just started using Facebook and Twitter earlier this year. These tools have benefited my business tremendously in a short amount of time.
A social networking strategy needs to be in the toolkit of every small business owner. If you need some help getting started, check out these articles:
Don’t underestimate the power of social networks to be potential launching pads for new business opportunities.

Dream B.I.G.,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Imitating Barack 2.0

I love hearing about innovation in unexpected places. While it’s typical to expect innovation from technology companies or other businesses, it’s always enlightening to find innovation in the not-so-typical places, such as a political campaign.

Even if everyone doesn’t agree on the selection of this President, they do have to agree that his team ran a very innovative campaign, utilizing a social technology strategy that has never been seen before in the political arena. If the saying is true that, “imitation is the highest form of flattery”, then Barack’s campaign team should feel very flattered based on the imitators that will undoubtedly be coming out of the woodwork trying to copy the groundbreaking strategy they planned and executed. His team may have forever changed how politicians run their campaigns.

Small businesses (and non-profits) can glean a lot from the innovative strategies that were employed by “Barack 2.0”. In fact, Fast Company magazine has an article that discusses some of the business implications from this campaign (click this link to get the story). Some examples of where they excelled in terms of creatively using technology include:

  • Established a presence where people gather online
  • Utilized multiple high tech and low tech communication channels
  • Created platforms for online community of supporters to interact with him and each other

Additionally, there is a book now available, entitled Barack 2.0: Social Media Lessons for Business.

Just like with any business, the same tools are available to most. The critical difference between small businesses that succeed and those that fail is the effective use of available tools within a well-executed plan. Barack 2.0 executed better than any other candidate in this election.

Check out the resources above to see what you can learn from this effectively-run campaign. Apply what’s relevant to give your company a strategic and innovative edge over your competitors.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Confessions of a Social Technology Newbie

Bold New World

I have a confession to make. I’m late coming to the Internet technology party. Fortunately, I’m still evolving as an entrepreneur, as are the incredible technologies at our fingertips that are now so pervasive in our society.

I recently purchased a Blackberry Bold 9000. One word sums up this nifty little device… Awesome! Now, I’m not totally new to Blackberries. I had one a few years ago when I was in corporate. However, I had forgotten just how great they are in terms of increasing your work efficiency, because of their incredible mobility and functionality. On the flip side, because they now have a lot more applications (i.e. toys) than they did a few years ago, my work efficiency might actually decrease because of the increased potential distractions (but that’s more of a personal discipline issue).
That’s just the beginning of this story. The purchase of the Bold was preceded by my headlong dive into the social networking arena. I’ve had this blog for a few years and a LinkedIn profile, because those are for “serious” businesspeople. However, I resisted getting a Facebook or MySpace page, because I only saw their “social” aspects. I also figured that mostly teenagers and “creatives” (musicians, artists, etc.) were really the only ones using these tools to network, build their brand/image, get exposure, etc. Not until I jumped in did I realize just how powerful these tools are – even for “regular” entrepreneurs.

Can I Be Your Friend?

About 3 weeks ago, I simultaneously opened Facebook and Twitter accounts. Since then I’ve also interacted with Meebo, Ustream.tv, Mogulus, Twitterfeed, Adjix, TinyUrl, Qik, pingfm, etc. This list doesn’t even come close to listing how many are actually available. What’s also amazing is how many of them are so easily integrated across each others’ web sites. I’m definitely not an expert on any of them yet. I’m still feeling my way around to see which ones are going to be most effective for my business.

Although I have read plenty about these social networking tools, I didn’t understand their full potential to quickly connect people and disseminate information until I had actually experienced it firsthand. Almost instantly I was able to connect with people I often see but don’t know a lot about; new people whom I may not have met otherwise; and some friends whom I had not seen in a very long time (it’s amazing – and sad – how many people we meet in life and forget about). I spend a lot of time on the Internet, but I had never recognized the power of the Internet to this extent.

Never Too Late

For many of you who have been doing this stuff for a while, I know I’m late to the party. If you have already gone done this path, then I’m just preaching to the choir. However, if you have not explored the world of social networking and the benefits that it can provide to your business, then you need to take a serious look at how these tools can enhance your brand, expand your reach, provide market intelligence, and increase your pool of potential customers. They also allow for other people to learn about you and your company (i.e., know, like, and trust you) in a non-threatening environment – of course when used in a non-irritating right way.

Successful entrepreneurs are always open to learning, adapting, and innovating. So, since we’re at the beginning of the new year, there’s no better time than the present to add more tools to your business toolkit. And just like I had to tell myself while learning this stuff, it’s never too late. Even if initially you just do enough to get your feet wet, at least stick your toe in the water.

For those who think they have to hire an expensive consultant, there are plenty of free resources on the Internet that can guide you through everything you need to get started. Also, if you have teenage children, I’m sure they are well-versed enough in social technology and lingo that you probably won’t have to look outside your house for help. Just do it!

Welcome to this bold new world!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

*Follow me on twitter: twitter.com/pwilsonjr

Social Networking Resources:
1) Entrepreneurs Need Social Networking
2) 35 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media
3) Leveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate Business