The Facets of a Social Network
By Michael Cohn
Your online social communities and the way that you conduct social networking are critical to your continued (and increasing) success as a business owner. Social networks are still increasing in strength and number on a steady, regular basis. It is important to understand how the facets of a social network function together.
The influence of social networking
Social networking has become much more personalized (but in a credible way) than it was in the beginning of its inception. Gone are the days when nobody took the entire online, social phenomenon seriously. Nowadays, people are definitely taking it seriously and they are going way beyond that. They are involved with the social networks in much more serious, sustainable manner. They can see that their efforts are paying off for their business so they are becoming more and more involved. Right now, people don’t have a choice but to be involved with social media and their interactions are proving to be fruitful more often than not.
One of the most interesting ideas, when it comes to social networks, is that new tools and actions are being introduced all of the time; in many cases, those tools don’t cost anything; and that those tools are boosting the success and effectiveness of businesses on a universal level. It is truly amazing! As a business owner, it is up to you to make the most effective, productive use of those social networks that make a difference in your particular situation. Each person needs to come up with his or her unique formula that works. In many cases, it will be a matter of trial and error but you must trust in the fact that you will get there and that it will be sooner rather than later.
There are many social networks from which to choose and, ultimately, only you can make the final decision about which ones work best for your particular business and your particular needs.
The facets of a social network
What should you choose, open or closed networks? Well, there is no black and white, simple answer to that question. They both serve an important purpose. Open networks are a great way to get started and there is more or less a guarantee that you will become a member right away and that will give you the opportunity to start interacting with other people. On the other hand, although closed networks are more difficult to get into, you may feel that if you are accepted (and, in all likelihood, you will be), you will be bound to have a valuable, rewarding experience as a member of that particular group. Going back to open networks for a second, you will have access to a large number of people. If you are just starting to build your social networking communities and you are gathering your people, it is a great way to accomplish that. Of course, you should keep in mind that quantity over quality is not always a good thing. Of course, then there is the credibility issue. As you get more and more involved with social networking, one of your goals must be to gain increased credibility, position yourself as a subject matter expert, have other people view you as trustworthy and boost your professional reputation. You want people to think of you first when they need what you are offering.
Protecting your reputation
Because of the anonymity of social networks and all things cyber, people have gotten bolder and more honest than they were before the advent of social media and other online connections. Of course, that can be good and that can be bad. It is good because you get a clear understanding of what people think of you and of your brand. You can take that feedback (provided that it holds value) and use it to improve upon what you have developed already. On the other hand, it can be bad because the other person can choose to deliver negative feedback in an extremely public way. It should never be done in that way but it often is. Additionally, you may hear the person say that it isn’t personal. It is just business. However, it sure feels personal a lot of the time and if you react emotionally, you won’t be able to see beyond that point. Who could blame you?
Dealing with the cultural gap
It is a sound concept (and you should consider yourself extremely fortunate) to be able to interact with your social networks on a global level. However, it is also important to remember that you may find cultural gaps, which may be difficult to overcome. Of course, if you and the other person both really want to find a way to make your relationship work, you will. You may just have to put in some extra effort, which will be well worth it in the long run.
If you are genuine and sincere, people will know it. On the other hand, if you don’t show the other person who you really are, he or she will know that too. It is also important to keep in mind that your first priority (when it comes to interacting) is to connect with the other person on a human/emotional level. It is critical to your success that you do that. Of course, along with that is the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) concept. In other words, your first priority is solving the other person’s problems. If you can do that, you will be golden!
Make sure that your social connections understand how much you value them
You are not in a silo so you are not allowed to behave like you are in one. The other person matters and you need to understand and express just how much. Without the clients, you wouldn’t have a business. Everyone (that means all human beings) need to feel that what they think and feel are important and that they are making a contribution. It is your job to let them know just how important that contribution is to you.
Social networks have many facets that work together for a very effective result. The main facets of a social network (from a content perspective) are appropriate topics, frequency of posting, consistency of posting, time of day that you post, and the ideas that you string together in your writing. Once you have satisfied all of those concepts, you can concern yourself with the other aspects of social networking, such as customer service, dealing with global differences, and analytics. They are all important and they all work together to create a successful experience for you. Social networking is an extremely important part of your online strategy and you need to work hard to make it work hard for you and for your business.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.
His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).