But how can you use these free social tools and its power to help you get to the next level of your career or business?
Remember that social media tools are just that- tools. All they do is to amplify what you already are, be it a business or individual. They act like channels for you to publicize and market your knowledge, skills and brand to the wider public.
My take is that social media, if leveraged right, can have the potential to bring you more clients, jobs, leads, customers and business.
Have a website and blog in place.
Use the blog to share your business insights, your company services and what your company’s product stands for. For example, are you selling software? Blog about the features and benefits on which type of businesses can really benefit from using your products.
You can also talk about the trends and news that happens in your industry and how your product is positioned so that it gives people an incentive to buy your products.
Or you can offer a free white paper or report for your potential customers/clients. I offer a free e-book to my email subscribers.
The trendy word to use for these type of marketing is called “content marketing”.
Many companies are now leveraging the blogging platform and the internet to showcase the company’s knowledge, products, services and any type of information that could position them as the industry expert.
A growing trend I’ve seen is that more and more companies will offer coupons or free samples for their products if you “Like” their Facebook fan page. If you like this blog, feel free to hop over to my Facebook page and “Like” it: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferyszhang
This is another great way to use social signals to advertise their brand and products. With more and more people joining Facebook, Twitter and the phenomenal rise of Pinterest, it makes sense for businesses regardless of size and scope to leverage these platforms to increase their brand recognition and product/service branding.
For very specialized fields such as law and accounting, it would be best to engage a competent lawyer for advice before you publish blog content since people tend to follow any advice given. You want to ensure that the information published is accurate, specific and relevant.
A better option is maybe to offer a free 20-30 minute consultation for first time clients instead of doing a blog since the information in a blog might be too generic and not applicable to everybody.
If you are looking to broaden your networks and job opportunities, a great way to start is to sign up for a Linkedin account. I have a Linkedin account and I mainly use it to connect with my professional contacts. I’ve even gotten emails from recruiters for jobs that match my skills and experiences.
I turn them down because at that time, I wasn’t interested in having a new job. However,as you can see, there is a chance that you might be contacted by recruiters on Linkedin if your skills and experiences match their expectations.
The key here is to fill your profile with as much details as possible about your skills, knowledge, experience and education. Or join the groups and discussions on Linkedin and participate in Q&A Sessions with your peers.
Facebook and Twitter are other avenues for you to showcase your insights, knowledge and abilities. You can use them to follow the top leaders in your industry or relevant companies to better understand their ideas, their thinking and insights.
Besides following these influential leaders, you might want to tweet or re-tweet interesting tidbits of the people you follow, or your own insights. It is a great way to get to know people. Even better, it can make you famous: A great example is Justin Halpern, who launch a book deal, have his own show and was featured in the New York Times based solely on his Twitter feed.
Just be aware that everything you put out there on the web is a part of your online reputation so be careful of the type of information you put out.
If you are a photographer, graphic designer or make-up artist, I highly recommend that you set up a blog and showcase your portfolios. That is how I found my make-up artist for my wedding pictures last year. I did a Google search for local make- up artists and her blog came up.
Besides her extensive experience in doing make-up for brides, she also blogs about her experiences and thoughts while doing various assignments around the Greater Toronto Area and that partially lead me to hire her as my make -up artist.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as long as you come across as professional and knowledgeable in your field. Show who you are and let your personality shine through on your social media profiles.
Try to stand in your customers/other people’s shoes whenever you are posting content on your blog: would the information be appropriate for the general public and does it shows my strengths and knowledge? Would it damage my professional reputation?
Sometimes whether you want to use these tools or not is totally dependent on each individual. I’ve had a friend who used to have a blog but took it down for fear of her employers searching for her online profile. Also her Facebook account is not searchable to strangers either.
I totally understand this dilemma and her need for privacy so if you are not fully comfortable with putting your heart and soul for the world to see, that is perfectly OK. We’re all unique and have unique needs so what works for one doesn’t work for another person.
But if you are comfortable with having some kind of “digital influence” on the web and you realize the amazing power of these social media tools – provided you use them right- it can bring you potential leads, jobs, customers, and clients.