You don’t need to convince business owners, executives or professionals about the importance of their business networks. They get it. Who you know often trumps what you know in terms of creating real business opportunities and advantages.
Yet, many of these same professionals often overlook online social networking and fail to take advantage of the huge opportunity it represents to grow and nurture their business networks and relationships.
There are many reasons for this, but here are three big ones:
- Time limitations – social networking takes time that many of these business leaders don’t have and won’t make;
- Lack of skill – business professionals know how to have relationships, but not necessarily in the setting of online social networks;
- Lack of awareness – busy people who don’t know how to have relationships online adds up to a lack of awareness of what is even possible through social networking.
Then, there’s the marketing problem.
Social networks aren’t that great for brand marketers
It turns out that social networks aren’t that great for brand marketing – for most types of businesses.
In his excellent piece Stop Social Media Marketing, Augie Ray points to a number of studies showing that social media brand marketing (defined as pure earned media, excluding advertising in social networks) doesn’t measure up in terms of building trust, acquiring prospects or driving purchases when compared with other marketing channels.
Ray suggests there are other, more effective opportunities for leveraging social media, such as public relations, corporate communications, product development and customer service.
Social networks are fueled by social capital
Anyone with experience in social networks knows that effective social networking isn’t about marketing and shouldn’t be reduced to it.
Social networking – for business owners, executives or professionals – should instead be about communicating and building relationships with the goal of accumulating social capital.
Building social capital is more akin to investing for long-term accumulation than for short-term profits. It requires the investment of value (your time and insight) without the expectation of any immediate return.
Building social capital online should be a slam dunk for ANYONE who is the primary driver of their business.
As much as financial and human capital, social capital is necessary for your success in business and arguably the most important measure of the value of social networking. In fact, one study suggests as much as 33 percent of the variance in sales performance can be attributed to one’s social capital. (For a great discussion of social capital and an inspiration for this post, see 4 Reasons Social Capital Trumps All.)
Here are three additional ways that building social capital can fuel your business success: