Social media is certainly dominating people’s minds when it comes to online marketing to consumers, but are they the best places to network with other business owners? There is an interesting article on The Next Web highlighting the demise of local social media due to the dominance of Facebook. Whilst there is a lot of hype surrounding Twitter, it fills the number two position in only two countries, the U.S. and the U.K, admittedly big markets. LinkedIn is the second choice in many other countries, yet it is not really designed for consumer marketing.
LinkedIn has become a powerful force when it comes to networking and business-to-business marketing. Professionals appreciate the tighter security surrounding who can link to you, and who is able to see your complete profile. This means you can concentrate on those who interest you, or who are in the same niche as yourself. Where Facebook is all about gaining as many followers as possible, LinkedIn is more about connecting on a professional basis – the heart of networking for small business.
Whilst LinkedIn does offer an opportunity to network with others from all over the world, it’s not the only opportunity. In fact, more traditional methods often have a much more lasting effect. It’s interesting to look at the online marketing industry as an example. Whilst day-to-day contact is maintained through social media channels, online marketing professionals take advantage of every opportunity to meet in person. International online marketing events draw crowds from around the world, all looking to network face to face, all looking to ‘humanize’ their online networking activities.
For small businesses, social media channels such as LinkedIn offer a great opportunity to connect with similar-minded business people. However, if you get the opportunity to meet in person, grab it. Chambers of Commerce, trade associations and state or national conferences are all important areas to develop a network. While you may think that you can’t spare the time, the connections you make could well save you a lot of time.