I could have broken the material into four separate blog posts, but decided instead to deliver it to you as four articles wrapped up into one long one.
For simplicity, I am assuming that your target market uses each of the sites. Since that may not be true in your case, feel free to adapt these business networking techniques to all other social networking sites as needed.
Targeting and connecting on Facebook are pretty straightforward with one caveat. You are limited to 5,000 connections on Facebook, so you can’t afford to cast too wide a net. Be fussy about whom you connect with and remove from your friends anybody who spams you.
To identify people in your target market, search for groups and Facebook networked blogs that would likely interest them. Join the groups and follow the blogs yourself. Then browse the members of those groups and followers of those blogs to find potential connections.
I believe that blog followers as a whole are more active on Facebook than mere group members. However, consider selecting only members with some minimum number of friends such as 100 to weed out people who don’t really engage with the site.
If you’re not sure which groups and blogs to select, try connecting with others in your niche. You’ll be able to see which groups they lead or belong to and which blogs they publish or follow. You can also examine their Facebook walls to find additional potential connections.
Connecting isn’t difficult. When you invite another member, include a short note such as, “You and I are both members of the Social Networking Haters group.”
Please, promise me that you won’t write anything nerdy like, “I’m looking to connect with like minded people.” Don’t use a line like that with anybody anywhere ever. I mean it.
Since Twitter is bloated with spammers’ phony profiles, targeting on Twitter is difficult and getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to be a messy job, so be prepared. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
Do not connect with anybody who has:
- no profile information or inappropriate profile information
- no picture, avatar or business logo
- a lopsided relationship between following and followers
- almost no tweets or spammy looking tweets
Do follow back anybody else who follows you. Unfollow anybody who spams you.
To identify Twitter members in your target market, start your search by using Find People to look for other people in your niche. Avoid the biggies, since they are magnets for spam, and a large percentage of their followers are spammers.
Look for the ones who have a few hundred to a few thousand followers.
Follow them and follow their followers — unless of course a particular follower looks suspicious based on the criteria I just listed above. A portion of their followers will hopefully belong to your target market.
Unfollow the people who don’t follow back after a few days and repeat the process.
Consider using a tool to manage your account.
On LinkedIn, targeting is fairly straightforward, but connecting can be a challenge.
If you’re a job hunter or a headhunter in the recruiting industry, you should probably connect with as many people as you can. Since the limit is reportedly 30,000, you can afford to cast a very wide net.
In any case you should accept all invitations. Remove any connection who who spams you:
- Click on “Connections” which is on the left side bar.
- Click on “Remove Connections” which is currently near the upper right corner
- Then follow the instructions.
The main difficulty with LinkedIn is that if you invite someone who then indicates that they don’t know you, you get a strike against you. If this happens often, LinkedIn restricts your inviting privileges.
People who are open to invitations and implicitly agree not to indicate that they don’t know you are call LinkedIn Open Networkers, abbreviated LION.
There are at least two groups for LinkedIn Open Networkers:
You can join and browse these groups to find people to link to. They of course have an option to accept you or to archive you, i.e. ignore you. Usually they accept.
If you are not a job hunter or headhunter, you’re probably better off targeting than trying to connect to thousands of people. That’s your judgment call.
You can do both, just as I do. But I admit that I started as a job hunter years ago and built a large base at that time. If I were starting today, I think I would stick to targeting.
To make the best connections, join the groups that people in your target market would join, and participate in the groups’ discussions. You’ll naturally make connections and get some traffic to your blog or website along the way.
Targeting on Ning is a little tricky. Cast a wide net on Ning, since I’m not aware of any upper limit on the number of Ning friends.
Here are the challenges that you face when adding Ning friends:
- You can only have 100 outstanding friend requests. You’ll have to dis-invite people who don’t respond. Do this from the “Friends” tab of your Ning dashboard at Ning.com.
- Most of the people you invite won’t respond. Either they don’t know how or they’ve already abandoned the site.
You improve your results by posting a friendly, non-spammy and non-nerdy comment to their profile at the time you invite them.
You also improve your results by inviting people who have recently joined the site, the ones at the beginning of the member list, or people who are obviously engaging with the site.
Find people in your target market by joining Ning networks and groups that are likely to attract these people. Invite a hundred people, and wait a day. Some will accept, so you can invite more.
When you get stuck, trim your invite list starting from the end. While this can be a slow process, it has worked for me and for others.
Be careful not to spam your friends. Don’t invite them directly to join new Ning sites.
The best way to communicate with your Ning friends is to write informative blog posts on a Ning site about something that would interest people in your target audience. Then use the share feature on Ning to let them know about your post.
Now It’s Your Turn
I don’t have a monopoly on online business networking techniques. Why not share some of your own targeting and connecting ideas?
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