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Business Tips: Successful Social Networking

I have heard many business owners question whether social networking is a successful marketing tool. I am a firm believer that it is. Social networking sites offer a place for you to reach out to prospects and customers at no cost to you. They can also be a lot of fun!

So how do you make social networking work for you? Here are 5 tips to make your efforts more successful:

1. Be where your target market.

Any successful marketing strategy starts with knowing who your target market is and where they are. There are many different social networking sites available and no one can be involved in them all. The key is to actively participate in a few networks that will give you the results you are after by allowing you to reach people who want to know about your products and services. For example, if I sell dog food, I want to find social networks that dog owners are involved in. Speaking about my dog food to a group of cat owners won’t get me anywhere!

2. Give first.

Your prospects have a lot of different options in regards to who they do business with, and they want to do business with someone they know, like and trust. Don’t start off bombarding your prospects with sales pitches. This only causes them to see you as a spammer and ignore you. Instead, share helpful information without expecting anything in return. Give tips, share helpful links and answer questions. When they decide to make a purchase, they will remember how you helped them before.

3. Make a long term commitment.

Building relationships is an ongoing process. If you expect to see results quickly, you will get discouraged and give up. Make the commitment to stick with it and keep communicating, even when you feel like no one is listening. Even one new connection can make a huge difference in your business.

4. Be consistent.

You may think that not keeping up with a network for a long period of time is no big deal, but it definitely is. Your prospects are bombarded with tons of information every day. If you stop giving them new content for three weeks they will figure you aren’t coming back and find someone else to take your place. Decide how often you will participate on your chosen social networking sites and stick to it.

5. Get to know your prospects.

Answering questions and sharing helpful hints is important, but you also need to get to know your audience. Interact and have conversations with them. Congratulate them on an accomplishment or ask them about their family. Showing a prospect that you are interested in them as a real person, not just a source of income, goes a long way in earning their trust.

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