Maximizing Social Networking for the Building Industry – Part 1

by Karen A. Davis

You’re getting acquainted with the social networking scene. Maybe you’ve signed up for accounts on LinkedIn, FriendFeed or BrightFuse. You may have even made a few friends on Facebook or started following people on Twitter. “But,” you ask, as so many do, “what’s the point in all of this? How can I use social networking and its numerous sites – with new ones popping up every day – to promote my business? Is it really worth my time?”

Since I began networking online, I’ve connected with several colleagues I may have never met otherwise. I live in the Midwest, and I now communicate regularly with building industry professionals across the country. Sure, it’s possible that we would eventually cross paths at a conference, trade show or workshop, but social networking provides additional media for meeting and sharing ideas. It’s a way to learn from other designers, builders, and real estate professionals, sharing information across the industry. It’s also a convenient method for keeping in contact with clients and informing them of the work you are doing, while positioning yourself as an expert in your niche of the building industry.

If you’ve only dipped your toe in the sea of social networking sites, or if you want to take full advantage of the accounts you’ve opened and increase your exposure, let’s get started:

Draw up your plan.
We’re in the building industry. We know that if we don’t have a blueprint to follow, things can go wrong quickly. So plan your “course of attack” to determine how you will participate in all of the social networking conversations going on out there. The first thing you’ll most likely discover: you don’t have enough time or energy to participate in every conversation. Choose the sites you can devote real, quality attention to.

Decide the image you want to project. Who is your target audience: your clients or others working in your field? Visit the various networking sites, and you’ll find that there are many of our building industry friends sharing information. Do you see conversations in which you can participate? If not, you can start discussions and draw others in. Remember, one of the main goals of social media is to build relationships.

What will I say?Introduce yourself, sharing business and personal information. Personal information? Honestly, nobody really cares about your business unless you can help with a problem they’re having. But, generally, people love to get personal tidbits. (Come on, you know you glance at those tabloids in the checkout line at the grocery store.)

You’ll want to start by building your profile on every site on which you participate. Forget the chronological resumes. Start with an “elevator speech.” If you only had a couple of minutes to tell someone about your business, how would you describe it – succinctly? Make it intriguing, and include a bit about how you can make a potential client’s life easier. You want to draw people onto your site, your blog or your networking page. Sprinkle in a few personal notes: hobbies, kids, pets, funny habits. Give your audience something to relate to, but be selective and don’t be gauche – it’s still business.

Don’t forget to add a picture. What would it be like to attend a live networking event and everyone wore a mask? We’re networking here and we want to see the person with whom we’re communicating.

Now, develop your blueprint for success, and tweak those profiles. Part two will continue with “Don’t be a wallflower, but don’t wave around the business card, either.” Also, watch for separate articles devoted to the sites on which I’m most active: Twitter, Google Blogger, LinkedIn, Facebook and Ning, as well as other social media sites.

(Read part 2 here)

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


Molly Irwin said...

nicely done intro. Thanks for sharing. I came in via twitter today -- your new contact (Pattern Builders)

Tim Klabunde said...

Great post Karen!

Associated Designs Home Plans said...

Nice post. I'm learning more and more about the power of Twitter, etc., every day!