Many business owners can see the value of using social media and other online tools to share helpful and relevant information with their network in order to build their brand and reputation as an expert.

Unlike traditional ‘interruption’ marketing (where businesses continue to push and bombard the marketplace with sales/promotional information) social media marketing (often referred to as ‘relationship’ marketing) is more about building and nurturing relationships with your network. Some of which could very well be your ideal client.

Today’s consumer is far savvier, is much harder to impress, is extremely time poor and therefore less likely to react to a constant barrage of sales messages.

Therefore engagement and interaction is critical and something that you should be doing in order to continue building relationships with people who could eventually become your perfect client.

Here are seven ways to elicit engagement as you continue to nurture and strengthen the relationships with people in your network:

1. Be focused
Be clear and focused on your audience. Who is it that you want to become part of your community? What are their interests? What do they struggle with? How can you deliver value and capture their interest and attention?

When you take time to answer this you’ll find they are far more likely to be interested in the information and resources you share. And, therefore be willing to engage in conversation with you.

2. Be communicative
Avoid the conversation that only goes one way, where you don’t answer questions or respond to comments that people have made. Especially if they have commented on your blog, Facebook wall or Twitter feed.

Take the time to respond to them personally. Not doing so would be considered rude!

It’s also important to realise that communication is not all about talking but also about listening. So make sure you also ‘listen’ to what people are saying.

3. Be resourceful
Become a resource – a go-to person by continuing to add interesting and informative posts, articles, videos etc that will be of interest to your community.

By continuing to add value you’ll soon develop a reputation as a resourceful person, whose information is trustworthy and relevant.

Don’t be the person who constantly sends out promotional material about your products and services – people will just not be interested.

By taking the time to build a level of trust with your community, and by concentrating on relationship building and resource sharing they will be far more open to receiving information about your products and services.

In fact, they may well have approached you already for more details as you’ve developed a certain level of respect in that area.

4. Be compelling
As you continue to write tweets, articles and produce videos, end your segment with a call to action to elicit comments and participation.

I often ask people what they thought about my article, what they found most helpful, whether they are doing something else that works for them as a way to spark participation in the conversation.

Another call to action may include asking whether they’d feel comfortable sharing your article with their community if they believe the content was worth sharing, thus enabling you to get your information out into the wider community.

5. Be polite
Hopefully this step doesn’t need much explanation. Remember what your parents told you – play nice; be nice.

Some people choose to take a more controversial position in their approach. However being overly controversial, direct and rude to people will not inspire people to engage/hang out with you.

People may have different opinions than you – and this doesn’t mean they are wrong. So be respectful of their models of the world.

6. Be constant
Ensure you post and interact with people regularly. Posting once a month or even once a fortnight is not enough. Aim for at least one quality blog post/article per week and regular interaction on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.

Your followers will be more likely to comment and participate if they know you’ll respond sooner – rather than if your responses are infrequent and delayed.

7. Be trustworthy
Would you keep company with someone who came across as shady and untrustworthy? No? Neither would the people in your network.

Everything you do and say, the conversations you participate in, the groups you join, the photos you share – everything, impacts your brand and reputation.

People like to hang out with people they know, like and trust. So make sure that you are honest in all your communications, interactions and business dealings. If you do the opposite – you’ll find yourself unfollowed, unfriended and possibly banned.

Was this helpful? Are you already doing these things? Yes? Fantastic – then you should be well on your way to building an ‘engaged’ network.

Author's Bio: 

Annemarie Cross is a Brand Communication Specialist helping ambitious women business owners to get noticed, hired and paid what they're worth! Want to learn simple yet powerful ways that you can build your brand, your credibility and your income? Visit to access free inspiring 'how-to' articles and to sign up for our free audio mini-series ‘7 Easy Steps to Build Your Brand, Your Biz, and Your Income.’