Tag Archive for 'online social networking'

Small business networking online - not social networking

“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” exclaimed Dorothy to her black dust-mop-of-a-dog as she looked around the strange world of Oz that she suddenly found herself in. Small business owners should say Dorothy’s words out loud to themselves as they look in the mirror every morning, because we’re not in Kansas anymore; we’re in the 21st century and things here are different.

There are thousands of reasons to remind yourself that your 21st century business operates in a strange world, but perhaps the most dramatic example is that parallel universe known as on-line social networking. You know – Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter – the list goes on and is getting longer every day. And if your first cell phone was bolted to the floor of your car, the Yellow Brick Road that must now be taken to incorporate social networking into your small business model may seem like a strange and intimidating place.

Faced with the pressure to adopt a social networking strategy, many small business owners are torn by two understandable questions: 1) Is social networking a fad, like citizen band radios? 2) If this thing is real, how does a traditional business incorporate social networking into its overall marketing plan?

For some time now I’ve said that the enemy of business adoption of social networking is in the name. Small business owners don’t want their employees socializing when they should be working. So, in order to make this medicine go down a little sweeter, I’ve coined a new term: “online business networking.” For those of us who have to make payroll every Friday, we should adopt practices, policies and technologies that will help us conduct business networking online.

Online business networking, as I see it, includes strategic activity on sites like those mentioned above, but would also incorporates collaborative technologies that make working with partners and customers more effective – think of this last part as “intra-networking.” And one more thing: make sure to have someone under the age of 30 - probably under 25 - helping with this plan.

On my radio program this week I interviewed online collaboration expert, Maia Sisk, with the IBM division of Lotus, about social networking opportunities for small businesses. I think you’ll like what she had to say. And don’t forget to leave a comment, question or even a frustration. So, instead of clicking your heels, click this link.

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