Using the internet to enhance your business presence is a case of choosing the platforms you want to use and sticking to them. Even though it’s tempting to try and connect with everyone, everywhere, there’s nothing worse than abandoned profiles so please choose your platforms carefully and don’t simply jump onto every platform available.
If you’re starting to break out into a cold sweat at the thought of cyber space then stop panicking. Here’s a basic toolkit that will keep your business life alive online (and they’re all free):
Tool 1. Manage your Google presence
Your business contacts are going to Google you before they agree to connect with you. Get yourself a professional portal from Profiled which automatically promotes itself to Google. It’s easy to use, holds all the information your contacts need and links them to your other sites on the internet.
Use your personalised link on your emails and business cards and you can get your contacts straight to your site and save them time and aggravation.
Tool 2. Connect and network
Online networking is a must in today’s business environment and LinkedIn is the largest of the business networking sites so you can connect with just about anyone you need to. Publish interesting things, make sure you respond to networking requests in a timely fashion and lock down your list of contacts so they’re not available to anyone who looks and you can’t go wrong.
LinkedIn is a great way to display your knowledge and to keep up with what people in your network are doing.
Tool 3. Position yourself as an expert
Blogs are a great way to be heard and to position yourself as an expert in your field. Stick to your core topic and make sure that the content is interesting and relevant to your readers. WordPress supplies an easy to use system which has many different designs and looks great. So if you’ve got plenty of useful and relevant things to say then writing a blog will be hugely beneficial.
Blogs are also a great way to connect with influential people in your industry – so set up RSS feeds for the blogs you want to read, and take the time to read and comment on them. This will get you on people’s radars and could get you that foot in the door which could lead to some exciting business leads.
Tool 4. To tweet or not to tweet
Some people add Twitter, the microblogging service, to their toolkit. It’s a great platform to boost your online profile but it does require a higher level of engagement and maintenance and you have to be prepared to keep this up on a regular basis – having a sparse and abandoned Twitter page looks as if you don’t want to engage.
So if you think you’re ready to commit the time, post frequent and interesting tweets if you want to impress and interact with your contacts in real-time.
Tool 5. Facebook – For business or pleasure?
If you have a Facebook account then great – however you need to make the decision whether to use it for business or personal use and never, EVER mix the two.
If it’s for business – brilliant, provide frequent and useful information and interact with your audience.
However if it is for personal use then make sure you take advantage of privacy settings and lock it down! There’s nothing worse than a business contact getting hold of that drunken night you had at Brian’s Birthday Bash – it’s not how you want to present yourself at all so always think before you post.
Tool 6. Monitoring your name
One of the vital parts of getting out on the internet is keeping an eye on what people are saying about you. Realistically, none of us have the time to do Google ourselves every day to safeguard ourselves properly so the trick is to automate the monitoring and get alerts emailed to you.
Two free tools that you can use to do this are:
Google Alerts – This is great for getting a real time view of what’s being said and with the worlds largest search giant behind it, you know it’s going to be fast. But beware, set up an alert for your name ‘Joe Bloggs’ you’ll receive alerts for everything on the web that contains that name.
Profiled.com – This site is pretty intelligent so you’ll get a well filtered list of what’s being said about you, but at the moment these digests are only available weekly.
Whichever tools you choose for getting your presence on the internet, it’s essential that you make sure that your message is consistent across all platforms. This will encourage brand consistency and people are more likely to recognise and remember you in the future.
Ensure your profile is well written and gives enough information to be useful but doesn’t drone on forever.
Contacts identify with you better if they can see what you look like so your profile picture is hugely important. Make sure you use a picture that is consistent with how you want to portray yourself (and not that picture from cousin Jane’s wedding with a glass of bubbly in your hand). It doesn’t have to be a professional picture that costs you a fortune – as long as you stay away from the ‘mirror’ photos, wedding photos and photos of you on a night out looking a bit worse for wear then you should be fine.
With more and more businesses searching for people on the internet it is vital that you know what they are going to find. So give potential contacts exactly what they are looking for and make the internet start working for you!