The arrival of the large number of social media platforms is not something to fear and resist. Social media offers any wise entrepreneur a number of new ways to communicate and research his markets. Embracing social media and using all the amazing benefits it offers will allow your business to stand head and shoulders above the competition. The most effective way to leverage all the benefits offered by social media is to use a blend of traditional marketing and networking strategies, combined with a targeted social media strategy.

Effective, traditional marketing and networking strategies were always about targeting the right market, identifying the right organisations or people, within those markets and then communicating the right message to them. The objective was and still is to connect with these people, so that they could get to know like and trust you and your product and service. Using traditional methods to market your business, such as print media, radio, television would be pointless, unless you knew who your target client was and how best to reach them. The same basic business principals hold true for any social media marketing strategy.

Effective traditional networking where you would develop, mutually beneficial, connection with the right people, required face to face meeting and developing meaningful connections with people, who could make a difference in your life or business. This has not changed with the advent of social media. Social media has simply accelerated the pace at which you can identify prospective people to connect with. The incredible volume of useful background information, which is available on the various social media platforms, is a powerful tool to help you get to know your prospects and clients better.

An effective social media strategy is not about building massive networks of thousands of distant connections. To be effective you must use the information available through social media, to research and get to know your prospects better. To get the most from your social media marketing and networking strategy, you must know who your ideal client is, what their needs are and where to find them.

Traditional marketing and networking strategies were never effective unless they were targeted at the right people in the right place. The same is true for any strategy, which utilises social media. Carefully select and target individuals, consistently communicate with them, always trying to add value to them. Over time you will build a network of raving fans, who will not only buy your products or services, but who will be an important part of your marketing strategy too.

Social Media as a Networking Tool

Non-relational approaches to networking can never work. Faceless websites, handing out bucket loads of business cards at conferences or sending pointless mass emails is not only ineffective, but can actually drive potential connections away from you. Networking is never about quantity, it is about the quality of relationships you can develop and sustain. The way your business or life turns out is directly proportional to the quality of meaningful relationships you can develop and most importantly sustain.

In this very competitive market place it is imperative that we are known. It is impossible to be needed if you are not known. So yes social media does serve as an opportunity to create awareness about what you and your business offer. Awareness does not create trust or meaningful connection. So if it is purely awareness that you want to create in the market place, then by all means continue to spray a diluted message into the market place via your social media platforms and pray that someone will see it, need it, trust you and then approach you.

On the other hand you can identify your target market, companies and individuals within those markets. Combine your social media and traditional networking strategies. Research these companies and individuals, using social media and Google and then develop a targeted strategy to approach these companies and individuals. The background information can be used to connect with these people at networking events or face to face meetings. This targeted approach, where you know exactly who you want to meet, connect and develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with. Places you at a huge advantage over your competitors, who go unprepared to any networking or face to face meeting, hoping to bump into the right person and then connect with them.

All it takes is just one great mentor, coach, friend or individual who is willing to share an insight or make a really important introduction and you will catapult your life or business to amazing new heights. So is it not worth the effort to identify the right people who could make a difference in your life, either by purchasing your products or services or guiding and helping you and then researching them to get as much background info on them as possible. The time invested in this endeavour could deliver returns, which would astound you.

Although social media has opened new doors of possibility to us, it still remains crucial to build credible relationships with people and to get personal references and referrals from them. Social media has just made it easier to research and communicate with all these important people on a regular basis. It has also made it easier to share any testimonials you receive from any clients, with targeted individuals, via your social media platforms.

The best way to use social media is to get your clients to endorse you and your product or service via social media. There is no easier or effective way to get prospects to trust your business than getting a raving fan to write about it on your social media platforms. People may doubt the truthfulness in an advertisement, but they will always trust any feedback from an independent third party. Building great businesses and personal success is about building trust in the market. Real meaningful trust is delivered through references, endorsements and testimonials. Your social media strategy must be designed to invite feedback from your clients.

Social media allows us to have access to massive quantities of people. This is great as it means that we can easily access the people that we have targeted and discover how we can connect with them. We can research them and get to know them even before we meet them. When you have only 100 friends in your first line of connections, you can easily access over 10 000 people by association through LinkedIn. Wow that is power, which you could use to research and discover the right people to connect with.

The power is not in the fact that you can spray a meaningless message out to so many people. The power lies in the fact that you have access to such an incredible data base, from which you can draw to develop your targeted networking or marketing strategy.

Become a value adder in the social media arena. Create awareness around who you are. Become part of the conversation that goes on in the social media arena and you are developing the first tier of connection with people. It is only when you target people and you take the conversation out of the social media realm that you can really leverage social media and turn it into something that will work for you.

Pray and spray tactics never worked before the advent of social media and the internet. These same tactics will not work now either. Human psychology is fundamentally still the same, technology can help us to become global and have access to masses of people, but fundamentally we are still the same. We still have the same desires, needs and ways we operate and we still want to do business with people or businesses we know, like and trust.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew is an expert and master teacher that speaks and teaches self-leadership, expanded awareness, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. He guides individuals and business professionals, to identify, prioritise and carry out the right activities, consistently, so that they can maximise their personal effectiveness and deliver their best; on time, every time. All the tools and techniques Andrew teaches; have been tested in the laboratory of his own life and the many successful businesses he has owned and led, over the past 20 years. These strategies have seen Andrew achieve financial independence and reach a point of harmonious balance in all areas of his life. His purpose is to help as many people as possible, achieve similar or better results and to show them how they can realise their full potential, both personal and professionally and to help them live a meaningful life, where they are fulfilled in all areas.