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Like me, Link me, Follow me…but why?

I’m often asked (by professional services business leaders in particular) what do you think of all these online networks – like LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ - as ways to network with potential partners and customers?

My answer is simple – they are ends to a means not an objective in themselves. The one with the most connections won’t win – it will be the one with the RIGHT connections based on mutual value!

There is no doubt that online connections and interactions are important.  There is a lot of data (particularly in consumer marketing) that indicates liking a brand or seeking a recommendation creates a lift in response or engagement. Less data in B2B. However if your objective is to connect with people that share your interests and create a community of like minded people to further your mutual (business) interests then you need to think high tech AND high touch.

Many people seem to have a bias one way or the other.  Some are big on high tech connecting, whilst others focus on face to face networking.  The best place, in my experience, is in the middle where one links and informs the other.

Over 8o% of all information people receive is tactile and auditory – very hard to do that solely online, though video is increasingly playing a role in that regard.

Someone once told me that it takes up to 10 connections with a person for them to feel comfortable enough to do business with you in an ongoing manner.  The beauty of connecting online is that it shortens what may otherwise need to be a face to face interaction.

I have found that succesful businesses using social media utilise information sourced in that way to influence and impact how they interact face to face.  To a certain extent it can fast track and deepen the connection.  Interests, background, people they hang out with are all sources of information to enable a more meaningful interaction.

So how do you balance offline and online to make real connections that have impact in B2B marketing?  I have 3 key principles:
  1. Treat people as PEOPLE – it’s not B2B it’s person to person.  Jargon doesn't connect.
  2. Elicit an EMOTIONAL response – emotions are what connect us as humans.
  3. Be VISUAL, TACTILE or AUDITORY – get noticed and remembered. You need to cut through.

So how are you going to make real connections?

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