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The power of networking is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced
business environment. Plenty of people will tell you that networking is
important and why, but few offer help with the basics of how to get started
using networking to grow your profits and revenues. And as the solution
provider business changes from one that focuses on products to one that focuses
on services, how you present your company is more important than ever.

Start by looking at your Website. Are you driving leads or increasing your
network traffic? Do your contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn know where to
find out more about your company? A Website must be more than a
placeholder. With more than 1 billion Websites already out there and more
domains being registered daily, you need to use the latest tools to set yourself
apart from the crowd. If creating such a site is not your forte, there are
many marketing service companies that can assist you in driving customers to
your site. A great Website does very little for your bottom line if no one
knows where to find you. Harness the power of keywords and Web analytics
into your Web presence to help you make the top of search engine listings.

Next, remember that the power of people is still No. 1.  I am often amazed
at how often I may meet someone on Twitter or Facebook and they want my contact
number to reach out in person. Web cameras and easy-to-use video software
have made connecting anywhere in the world easy and affordable. You can
add the personal touch by allowing a face and voice to be added to your online
personality. Do not underestimate the power of a “how to” or demonstration
video with your audience.  

Facebook and LinkedIn are still key tools you can use in reaching thousands of
like-minded business people. A common mistake many make is using Facebook
to stay in touch with family and friends only. Facebook offers pages for
individuals as well as for their businesses. If you want to expand your presence
on Facebook for business, you have two options. Option 1 allows you to
create your own business page and invite people to join you there. You can
restrict your personal page to friends and family. Option 2 is to join
groups and actively participate in the conversations with other members. This
allows you to be viewed as a thought leader in your area.

Are you making the most of LinkedIn? Lots of people connect and build LinkedIn
networks, but very few use them. When was the last time you shared one
contact’s information with another? Lots of discussion boards on LinkedIn
are stuffed with personal sales messages, but very few members use the service
proactively. Consider proactive ways to unite and communicate with your
network. You may opt for a newsletter, a forum, a blog or even a weekly posting
of what’s new in your network, but do not expect any business activity to take
place unless you actively initiate it.

Don’t have time to network? Still not attending your local BNI
(Business Networkers International) or Chamber meetings? Choosing to not
actively network today on any of the sites above or in your local community is
the same as placing your name in the phone book and hoping someone chooses
you. People will always choose to do business with people they know versus
companies they don’t.