We spend a lot of time in the world of social media talking about content. Content marketing, content is king, content rules, and rightfully so, since content is a vital part of many people's work. It's effective, it scales well with the resources you give it, and if done well, helps you and your community. That said, content is only half the equation. Remember that this is social media - content is the media. There's still the social part, and that's a part we pay very little attention to. In fact, if you believe some of the content marketing resources out there, the general idea is "build it and they will come", which hasn't really worked… well, ever.
So what's the other half of social media? The social part. Your network, and the people in them. You can still make social media work well for you without generating much content. How? By focusing your efforts on your network. Recently, I shared a simple networking tip, saying hello to people who visit your profile on LinkedIn. That's the tip of the iceberg. If you want to make the social part work for you, or your content marketing skills have proven to not be your strength, then look into networking. Here are two simple networking exercises for you to try.
Be a Broker
Of the people you know, try to connect two of them every week (or even every day if your network is large enough) who might benefit each other. Say you know someone who's in the vacuum business and someone who's in the pizza delivery business in your local town. Connect them, introduce them to each other, and maybe even make the suggestion that the pizza guy work with the vacuum guy on commission so as to get into more households.
Listen on networks like LinkedIn Signal or Twitter for people asking their friends to recommend new hires or new business partners, and then make the connections. It's really easy - just go to Signal, search for the word hiring, restrict to your first degree connections, and see what's out there that you can make happen for someone in your network. No, there's nothing in it directly for you, but by doing so, you strengthen your network by increasing your value to the people in it.
Make Some Greatest Hits
Are you subscribed to Peter Shankman's Help a Reporter Out (HARO)? If you're not, you're missing out on golden opportunities for earned press - but not for you. If you're still not familiar with this free service, it's a thrice-daily email of inquiries from press and media sources asking for sources to contact who are experts. Here's an example query:
6) Summary: Financial Experts' Tips
Name: S.Z. Berg High-traffic print/websites
Category: Business and Finance
Media Outlet: High-traffic print/websites
Deadline: 7:00 PM PST - 30 March
Query: I am looking for financial and investment experts to provide little-known strategies (and client anecdotes) on digging out of debt, buying a car, paying for college, and other big buys or investing in stocks or mutual funds for a book/Huffington Post blog. Requirements: Prefer experts who are socially networked.
Here's the exercise: subscribe to HARO, and commit to finding one query per week for someone in your network. Read through the backgrounds of a dozen or so folks who are connected to you on LinkedIn or Twitter and then read HARO. Find someone in that group a single press inquiry, copy and paste it to them, and see if it can land them some ink. If you want to make an impression on someone, getting them free press is certainly one way of doing so.
Hint for job seekers: this is a KILLER way to make a pre- or post-interview impression.
These two exercises, if you do them diligently once a week, every week, will strengthen and grow your network. People will begin to seek you out because you're constantly providing them with value, and as is human nature, they'll do their best to return the favor and find you opportunities as well. Want the world to beat a path to your door? Do the hard work of beating a path to their doors first.
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