Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking – content is our most important product

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on September 20, 2009

I have written a bit here about where to network and about finding the balance of networking sites and resources that meet your needs, but that only has value insofar as you manage what you share in your networking, to create value. This means marketing value for you and that means sharing value with those you reach out to. Content is king. Content is our most important product, and for everyone who networks, online or off.

I do not want this to be a completely abstract posting so I will focus on my own experience and what I seek to do, and leave it to anyone who reads this to decide if I do what I say. I will focus here on my LinkedIn profile as a point of discussion at: www.linkedin.com/in/timothyplatt.

I have written and updated my LinkedIn profile as an online brochure for use as a consulting marketing tool. Different people network for different reasons, and frequently for more than one reason and with distinct target audiences in mind. I would recommend that anyone who sets out to online network really think through who they are trying to reach and what type of message would help them do this most effectively. And if you have two different goals and two different target audiences set up two different online profiles, each on the social networking site that is most appropriate for the audience that profile is aimed at. Use different social networking sites if possible for these distinct profiles to keep it easy and simple for the people you are trying to reach and so they will be more likely to see the profile you want them to see. Think business social networking with one audience in mind and more social, social networking with a different audience in mind as an example of the type of dichotomy I refer to here.

My focus on social networking in this blog is in business oriented social networking but much applies to any online social networking. It is just that you probably want to be a lot more rigorous in managing the details if this is going to help your business and professional career. So I will focus on business social networking in what follows.

Select the details you share with forethought and adjust as appropriate. So consultants might or might not want to name specific clients in their profile. Be sure you take the interests and preferences of your clients into account here when deciding and discretion is better than disclosure if you have any doubts. I generally withhold listing client names in a general access resource like an online profile and I try to be consistent in that approach. The key here is that I have a strategy and plan in mind and I am not simply writing level of detail on an ad hoc, unconsidered basis.

Use the tools and options that your social networking site offers to promote your marketing effort and your skills and experience. LinkedIn has a Q&A section and I have responded to 23 questions now. I add that I have been very careful in drafting responses with care and an eye towards sharing value and I have been selected 15 times as offering best answer/expert response. I have developed consulting opportunities because people found value in these LinkedIn Q&A responses, and well written, informative questions and responses can bring value back to others too, who use this type of shared online resource.

So the question is that of what would work best for you and how can you systematically tie together what you do and offer online to create a clear, compelling marketing presence to the audience you are trying to reach? Business oriented social networking is all about strategic planning and execution, and in the follow-through and performance tracking of how this all works. That, as I say here, starts and ends with crafting your message and how you write it.

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