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How To Network In Your Pajamas And Still Look Professional

by Sandi Abbott on November 21, 2009

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I don’t like going to networking events. I enjoy them about as much as I like having a root canal. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. And now all three of my blog readers know about it. I just hope none of them are dentists.

The reason I don’t like networking events is because they’re a distraction in the middle of my day. But mostly it’s because I’m an introvert and don’t always feel ready to mix and mingle.

One of the ways I combat this is by making sure I’m prepared to network. I put on my best face (it’s the same face I wear all the time except with blush and lipstick),  memorize my elevator speech,  and bring plenty of business cards. Then I find that I’m glad I took the time to go.

Otherwise it feels more like one of those dreams where you show up somewhere wearing your pajamas and then spend the whole time trying to figure out how you could possibly forget something so basic and wondering why no one’s saying anything about it. Awkward.

That’s one of the reasons why social networking is easier. You don’t have to leave your office and you can do it your pajamas.

But even if you’re networking while sporting your favorite bunny slippers, the same rules that apply to networking events apply to social networking. You need to be prepared.

So here are some tips to help you make your online networking as productive as your offline networking.

Making The Most Of Your Online Networking

If you joined Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to network, then make the most of your opportunity by making your social media profiles engaging enough to get people to join your network.

Your profile picture, links, bio, images and photos are the things that represent you online. They are a key component of your personal online brand.

Here are a few tips to help make your social media profiles sticky enough to get someone to hang around and join your network. It’s actually very similar to what you would do at a networking event, except that you can do it in your pajamas.

Put On Your Best Face (Profile Picture)

This is very important. Because it’s one of the ways that we connect. It’s very hard to connect with an icon or logo.  So show your face. Choose a picture that’s open and friendly, just the way you’d be in person.

Michelle Villalobos wrote some helpful tips regarding profile pictures.  Here’s a link to her article: Top 5 things NOT To Do In A Social Media Profile Picture

Tell Me Something About You (Profile Bio)

If I were to meet you at a networking event, my first point of contact with you would probably be your elevator speech. Based on those first 30-60 seconds, I’ll make a decision about whether I want to network with you.

You have an even shorter window of opportunity when I visit your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. If all that’s there is your username, I’ll most likely leave your page without becoming a part of your network.

So give me a reason to stay. Use the bio to deliver your elevator speech.  And do it in a way that lets me know how it could benefit me. For example, in my bio, I let people know that I help small businesses increase sales and referrals through effective email marketing. That’s much stronger than if I said I do email marketing.

Lastly, describe yourself in the terms that most people would use to search for you. Most online bios are crawled by spiders so key words will help increase your visibility.

Give Me A Business Card (Links, Images And Photos)

Business cards are great. Because they give me a snapshot of your company and the ways I can get in touch with you. You can provide similar information in your social networks. Here are some ways to do this:

Twitter: Customize your background with your logo and company info. You can make your own, get a free one online or buy one. Although it’s not linkable, include your website, blog and other social networks so they can find out more about you.

Facebook: For starters, include links to your website and blog. Use html boxes to add an email sign up box and Twitter button. You can even upload a jpg of your business card and add it to your photo album.

LinkedIn: You can include up to 3 links in your profile page. You can also add other applications that allow you to include slide presentations and PDF files.

Let’s carry on a conversation (Posts)

Your content is what helps build your brand and let’s people know what they can expect from you.

One of the greatest turn offs is to visit a site that’s nothing more than promotional plugs, like billboards on a highway. You can post information about your company and your services, but only one tenth as often.

The rest of the time? Interact with others in your network. Post interesting links to what’s going on in your niche. Post quotes and things that make you laugh. Even if it’s just Chuck Norris jokes.

I hope this helps you make your online presence more professional and engaging.

Now I’ve got to run because I’m going to be late for my first Femfessionals networking lunch. This is one networking event I’m really looking forward to!

If you’re out there, and we’re not connected, drop me a line and let’s get connected. You can email me or visit me at one of my sites:

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIn

My apologies to my dentist friends: I’m sorry if I offended you with my root canal analogy. I’ve actually had two, and with the Novacain it’s not so bad ;)

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{ 4 comments }

AntiSocial3

A few years ago at a women’s conference a speaker joked about why she was a Twitter quitter. She thought it was silly to be constantly broadcasting what you were doing. She just didn’t get it.

I laughed in agreement because I didn’t get it either. Twitter was just too social, too trivial, too time-consuming for me. I had no plans of ever joining any social networks.

Then my plans changed.

I started my own business and realized I had to learn about social network marketing.  The problem was that I still didn’t get Twitter and I was too anti-social to even want to bother.

But I had to.

Prospective clients were asking me how to use it. And, frankly, as a small business owner with an almost non-existent budget, I needed to take advantage of these free networking tools.

So I begrudgingly joined Twitter and Facebook and then did nothing with it. Most days I wouldn’t even log in. But I felt that if gave up, I might as well close shop and do something else.

In desperation, I started doing some research. And I found some truly excellent articles and blogs. Slowly I began to connect with the people who were writing them. I followed them on Twitter, I subscribed to their blogs and their email newsletters. And I learned a lot.

These folks shared their knowledge. They sometimes broadcasted their mistakes and what they learned from them. They even wrote about their fears. They were so transparent that I started to feel like I knew them.

That’s when it all came together for me and I started tweeting what I found interesting and posting what I was up to. Then people started following me.

Before I knew it, I was actually enjoying it.

I realized that the reason I didn’t want to get into social networking in the first place was because I had a misconception about what it was. I envisioned a hyper-social community where everyone was tweeting about what they ate for breakfast or posting every random thought they had. But not everyone does that.

You can find people and companies that share your interests. You can connect with marketers, consultants, writers, bloggers, techies and others that will share their expertise to help you improve your business, increase your network and expand your horizons.

They can also help you stray out of your comfort zone so you can grow. I started social networking for my business, but it’s helped me personally, too.

It helped me become a better marketer. Just learning to network online has expanded my marketing abilities. But the real neat thing is that’s it’s helped me grow out of the one-sided communications I’d engaged in for nearly twenty years as a marketer.

Social media marketing was a different thing altogether. It was not a monologue, but a conversation. So my contribution had to be compelling enough to get others in my network to comment and share.

It helped me break out of my shell. Even if I was using social networking for business, I couldn’t hide behind a logo and tagline. Tweeting promotional messages just wasn’t enough.

Successful social networkers did more than that. They got personal and philosophical and sometimes even sloppy, posting while sleepy or fed up or drunk on cough medicine or something else. You could see the person behind the “brand.” In fact, the person was the brand.

So I learned that to engage others I had to be more personal. I’m still working on this one, but it’s becoming easier to let my personality quirks show.

What really helped me were the truly excellent blogs, newsletters and people I found online. I’d like to share these with you in the hope that they can help you as much as they did me:

Blogs

MatriXFiles: I’ve learned a lot about Twitter applications and social media marketing from Joanna Pineda’s posts.

Copyblogger: Great advice and how to posts for bloggers, content marketers and anyone who wants to write well.

Johnny B. Truant: His posts on making a living from working online are very funny and insightful.

Problogger: Very helpful how to posts on blogging and online marketing.

Fan Pages

Dell Social Media: Very informative white papers for small business owners interested in social media marketing

Mashable: A must for anyone who wants to network online.

Newsletters

e-marketer: Statistics and reports give you a great snapshot of what’s happening with online marketing.

Marketing Profs’ “Get to the Po!int:” Short e-newsletters on more than 14 marketing topics, including Social Media.

Twitter Users

There are so many, but here’s just a few of my favorites. Of course, the bloggers mentioned above have Twitter accounts and I follow them, too.

@danzarrella

@socialmedia2day

@soniasimone

@jonmorrow

@ChristineG

By the way, if you’d like an anti-social networker t-shirt, click here. (There’s nothing in it for me, just thought I’d share.)

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Why Email Marketing Continues To Rock

October 13, 2009

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled, “Why Email No Longer Rules … And what that means for the way we communicate.”
My first wise-cracking thought was, “That’s what I hear about newspapers, too.”
But after I got that out of my system, I read on.
The article was referring to how social networking sites and [...]

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