I will admit it: I was skeptical. When my marketing guru told me that I needed to be active on Twitter, that I need a blog and that I needed to make sure my LinkedIn profile was current and active, I wondered if this wave she was chasing would soon be crashing. But she’s good, and I trust her. So we took the plunge. And, just as she promised, I have been continually surprised at the results.

Here are just a few facts for you…
. LinkedIn has more than 70 million members, including executives from every one of the Fortune 500 companies.
. Twitter has 105 million users globally.
. Facebook has over 400 million active users as of February of this year.
. 72% of the online population is active in at least 1 social network.
. The average social media user is connected to at least 195 people, goes to social sites five days a week and checks in about four times a day for a total of an hour each day.

So, in a nutshell, if you are NOT using social media, you are not fully connected to the world around you…including the business world. Yes, it can be overwhelming, and yes, you can get sucked in spending a lot of time and money with little return. But there are ways to be smart about it without getting in over your head. For starters, you should have one (not multiple; people, check what you have out there before you start a new profile) LinkedIn profile. Take the time to complete your profile, with professional experience, a photo and associations. Then do a search for every person you know and trust professionally, and invite them to connect with you (odds are, about 90% of them are on LinkedIn).

Once you have your profile established and your network growing, spend a little time digging around www.linkedin.com. You will quickly realize that there is no top or bottom… The sky is the limit with what you can do with this free but invaluable resource.

At this moment, I am directly connected with 474 people… people I have done business with or met through speaking engagements; former classmates, professional association colleagues, friends, fellow church members and neighbors. The networks of my 474 connections expand my personal network to 4,246,709 people right now. So I could contact Darkeisha, whom I met at my last speaking engagement in Raleigh and ask for an introduction to any one of the 434 people in her network, including some bank VPs and CEOs. A personal introduction from Darkeisha could get me in the door to an organization where I would otherwise be stuck in the vestibule. Are you getting the picture here?

I’m no social media expert; I just know opportunity when I see it. And if you’re missing out on this opportunity, you are working harder (and not smarter) than your competition, likely for less return. More tips on LinkedIn.
Twitter? Well, I’m still getting used to that one. For now, my marketing guru tells me it’s a “point of entry” for a speaker. And I get to reach more people with my “Bailey’s Dailies” than I would otherwise. For some basics on Twitter, check out this site.

re-S.H.A.P.E. your network.™
Clifford A. Bailey


This entry was posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 3:45 pm and is filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.