Who Should You Like, Follow, and Connect With?

January 20, 2011

in Business

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Some business relationships naturally tend to be more beneficial than others. For example, if you are targeting businesses that cater to the wedding market, it makes sense to develop relationships with people who work in businesses such as event planners, florists and caterers.

If you’re a mortgage lender, good contacts for you include realtors and an insurance salesperson. By building business relationships with people who share the same niche target customer that you do, you are forming what is commonly referred to as a contact sphere. Contact spheres are generally formed by people who are in compatible but non-competitive professions.

As you get to know each other and develop trust, you can refer business to each other and help each other to be successful.

Social Networking – Both Traditional & Online Websites Work

In the brick and mortar world, we network face-to-face in organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and within networking groups like BNI (Business Network International). Within these formal groups, we are taught to form contact spheres. We meet each other in person and exchange information and build trust in one another.

In this virtual world that we now compete in, we can be marketing our products and services internationally. Contact spheres are as important as ever. By meeting like-minded business people to support and collaborate with, entrepreneurs and small business owners can expand their reach. More than ever we need to find and build our support system.

Personally, I feel it’s less important these days to find like-minded people in non-competitive businesses. I believe that I can learn from other people who are offering the same services and products that I do.

I definitely need to differentiate myself and convince potential clients that I have the best solution but I certainly can benefit from learning from other people in my field. I benefit from having relationships with other like-minded people who I can brainstorm and collaborate with. Each of us has our own specialties and by collaborating, we can help each other be successful.

Building Your Contact Sphere/Circle of Friends

So, in this virtual world where it’s not as easy to always meet face-to-face, how do we build contact spheres (or circle of friends as many bloggers refer to them)? If you’ve read my last two articles on Twitter and taken my poll about whether Twitter is a distraction or a referral source, you’ll see that there’s a healthy discussion going on as to which social networks work and you’ll see that many of us do not use the same social networks nor do we use them in the same way.

Some of us have carefully planned strategies for social networking. Others suddenly found themselves tweeting almost as if by accident.

To meet other business people who have working relationships with your potential clients, start by identifying the types of businesses that your potential clients work with. What other needs does your target market have? Who meets these needs? Where can you find them? Commenting on blogs, participating in forums, and identifying the social networking sites that your potential customers are on is one place to start. Look for influential people who you can develop meaningful relationships with.

One of my favorite online resources is Social Media Examiner. I follow them, tweet and like them on Facebook. If you’re interested in learning more a developing a social networking strategy, I recommend reading “7 Steps For a Successful Social Media Strategy”.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your strategies too. What’s working for you? Do you have a circle of friends who you can turn to? Who do you highly recommend as a resource?

Evelyn January 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Hi Sheryl,

I do have a circle of friends that I turn to. Though I have to admit, I don’t have many friends in my circle, but the ones I do have, are gems.

Take care,

Evelyn

KeepUpWeb January 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

They say surround yourself with positive people but I believe there’s also value to be found in constructive criticism. I’ll follow someone who “tells it like it is” as long as they’re not unnecessarily mean about it. For some reason, I don’t like to follow people who swear all the time. Now that really irks me. :)

Donina Ifurung January 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

Hi! I like how you give strategic pointers. The “contact spheres” you mention is similar to what I call my “spheres of influence”. Great post!

KeepUpWeb January 20, 2011 at 11:58 am

Thanks Donina. “Spheres of influence” is a good term too. I coined the term “contact spheres” from my stint in the BNI networking group.

Marlee January 20, 2011 at 8:30 am

Hi Sherryl!
What a timely post for my thought-world. I just touched on this subject area in a post I wrote today, and I like the depth that you’ve added to the issue here.

In particular, I appreciate this idea of connecting with “competitors.” There is so much more power in working together.

KeepUpWeb January 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Hi Marlee!
I’ll have to hop over and read your post later. Connecting and building your community is a timely topic and it’s interesting to read other bloggers’ views on it.

Bunnygotblog January 20, 2011 at 7:07 am

This is a very informative article. I am glad I found it.

KeepUpWeb January 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

Andreas@Blog Advertising January 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

First of all you should follow your family and friends, old friends from school. Then you should connect with people who share the same interest with you and follow people who are teachers and leaders in your profession.

KeepUpWeb January 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

More good advice! It’s a great way to build awareness. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who will refer you to your next great client or customer.

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