Fortunately, social media provides an extraordinary opportunity for virtual networking and cross-promotion, both of which have real business significance. What's more, a business' blog can also serve as a valuable commodity for strengthening relationships with colleagues, by giving them a platform for guest blogging (and the resulting exposure). By maintaining your blog, you'll be hosting something others in your field want to be part of - and you'll all experience the benefits.
Here are five virtual strategies you can implement this week on your social media accounts and your blog, to cement your relationships and generate real referrals.
1. Start tagging people! (Or more, specifically, their business pages!) Give credit to the vendors who've collaborated with you on a fantastic recent wedding. Send a shout-out to the folks you spoke with at an industry function. Share your excitement about a meeting or venue walk-through with colleagues by naming them in your status. And if you're recapping an event on your blog, do your very best to name, and link to, all the other businesses who worked on the event with you. Most businesses, unless they're run by total nutters (ask me sometime about the venue coordinator who threw a tantrum over an Evite!), want and appreciate the promotion.
2. Support others' work. Let me preface this by saying, in my opinion, authenticity is everything. That means don't pretend to like that don't actually appeal to you, and don't post fake comments. With that out of the way, there's a ton of good news and good images on social media, so why not give some credit to the folks who are posting them? It only takes a few seconds to like, favorite, retweet or repin a post. It only takes a few more seconds to share something that's really great. And it only takes a few more seconds than that to leave a blog comment. Most of us posting to our business social media and blog often feel like we're performing to an empty theater, so it's always nice when someone is out there to hear - and appreciate - the message.
3. Create content of value, and direct the right people to it. I've written before about the importance of quality content. This holds true for content you create yourself, and content created by others that you choose to share. The content you choose to put out there is a direct reflection on your interests, your intelligence and your judgment, so be mindful when you're posting. Also, be aware of any opportunities to share good things directly with other business owners who may be interested - drop a fascinating link right on their Facebook page, for example, or tag a few people you know would want to read it.
4. Create opportunities for others to create content for you. I mentioned in a previous post that allowing others to contribute to your blog is a totally viable way to generate content, with way less work for you. You can let fellow business owners submit a complete article, answer your questions for an interview, or participate in larger "groupthink" posts (as an example, a series of posts for my DJ business, featuring input from wedding planners, wedding and event photographers, and caterers, sent our blog traffic through the roof and resulted in stronger relationships with many, if not all, of the vendors who were featured).
5. Consider starting something bigger, socially speaking. I'm not a sappy person by any stretch of the imagination, but I love it when someone in the industry is thoughtful and sensitive enough to try to uplift others. My friend and fellow coach, Reina Pomeroy of Reina & Co., has, on numerous occasions, taken it upon herself to publicly acknowledge other people's talent and hard work. Just this past month, wedding industry leaders Sage Wedding Pros ran a month-long Instagram series profiling "#sageinnovators," entrepreneurs who've contributed something unique to their field. (I was so geeked out when they included me, I immediately ran to all of my social media accounts to crow about it, and added it to my professional bio on three of my websites!) So yeah, people feel great about this kind of thing, and I believe it has a positive impact on the business world as a whole, which has tremendous value in itself.
So, what are you going to do on your social media and blog this week to up your interaction game? I'd love to know what worked for you.