It's been said the devil is in the details. Unfortunately, I'm not really a details kind of person. I'd like to write it off and say my mental energy goes into creativity; but the truth is, I'm just really forgetful. It's why we have insanely organized people like Rachel and Vickie on staff to keep us organized. That's why yesterday's Columbus Tweetup served as a great reminder of one of the common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to social media.
They forget to bring their business cards to the party.
Yesterday was the second organized Tweet-up in Columbus. (If you aren't familiar with Tweet-ups, they're basically a gathering of Twitter users from a specific city for networking and general merriment.) We'd had our first Tweet-up last month, gathering together about 24 people, most of whom I'd already met. This month, we doubled in size. Fifty-six people showed up yesterday to a great lunch hosted by Baja Sol (which by the way has super yummy salsa).
Unfortunately, I realized about ten minutes before I got there that I hadn't grabbed a stack of business cards to bring with me.
I called Rachel up and asked her to bring extras of hers so I at least had something to hand out, but I kicked myself repeatedly over the fact that I was now too far from home to turn around and go get them. Then I asked myself why I keep forgetting to restock my purse with a fresh supply each time I come home.
Since I'm big on analogies, my next thought was how many companies do this exact same thing in an online environment.
See, a business card is one of those things you should have with you at all times, but I'm certain I'm not the only small business owner who forgets to carry them.
A few weeks back I was volunteering at our church's food pantry. During the course of the evening I met about a dozen new people at my church. I got into a work conversation with roughly half of them and all of those wanted to know more about the site and what we offer. Of course I had no business cards with me, so I had to write our URL and my email down on scraps of paper for them.
That actually happens to me fairly often. It's easy to try and remember to take cards to a networking function, but sometimes we forget that those work related meetings and conversations can sometimes happen spontaneously. In fact, just this week, Rachel ran into someone at Panera Bread who introduced her to someone else in our industry here in town.
You just never know.
It's the same online. I'm willing to bet most of you include your work URL or your business blog URL in your profile at sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, but do you include them in your profile elsewhere? I rarely use Flickr for work. It almost exclusively contains (protected) pictures of my kids and (public) pictures of my bento boxes, meals I create and local shots from around Columbus.
For the most part, I don't expect to make business contacts through Flickr. I go there to be part of communities that revolve around my hobby. That said, it would be a mistake for me not to link to Search Engine Guide or explain what I do in my profile.
You see, there's a surprisingly high level of crossover in interest online. Add in the fact that establishing a personal connection via shared interests can quickly strengthen an online relationship or give you an opening to spark conversation and you're doing yourself a serious disservice if you aren't including your business URL in your "fun" social media activities.
I remain amazed at how many of my Lactivist readers are Search Engine Guide regulars and how many Search Engine Guide regulars also visit The Lactivist. In fact, during the year after I launched that site, I'd get just as many people approaching me at shows to talk about breast feeding as I did to talk about marketing. The breast feeding conversations almost always led to business contacts, but they were more memorable because we already had a shared interest.
Don't pass up the chance to make new business contacts because you think some of your social media activities are "just for fun." There's business opportunity in nearly every interaction you have. Forgetting to link to your business from your social media profiles is like forgetting to keep a supply of your business cards in your purse or wallet.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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