This week we take a look at the corporate-style social networking tools.
Plaxo began as an online address book for those who use Microsoft Outlook. Plaxo Pulse is the social networking iteration—think Facebook added to LinkedIn. On Plaxo you can create an extensive business related profile, plus share videos and photos with professional colleagues, personal friends and family. You can also add links to favorite websites such as your blog, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and other social networking sites, for easy access.
Zoominfo is an online listing service that provides comprehensive info on businesses and individuals. It is likely that you are already in the Zoominfo database, with a nascent profile waiting to be “claimed”.
Information is compiled by scanning online listings, press releases and websites, which are searched and updated 24/7, to provide the most current data on people and businesses. You can scroll through the database, find your name, create a profile and upload a photo.
Zoominfo power search can give a real boost to your ability to do business. The very impressive PowerSell feature will help you prospect within just about any organization at any level, while the JobCast feature helps hiring managers ferret out qualified candidates. These services are not free, but they just might pay for themselves when you are able to identify and contact the decision maker who can seal the deal for you.
LinkedIn is of course the big Kahuna for business networking, the gold standard against which all others are measured. Professionals of every stripe are here, along with Freelancers and business owners. I think of LinkedIn as an adjunct website.
You can create a profile and make and receive recommendations that testify to your professional competency and that of your contacts. You can join networking peer groups within LinkedIn to trade info, talk shop, get to know people in a similar industry or with similar interests, or re-connect with alumni from your alma mater.
You can link your blog to LinkedIn (as I have done), alert contacts to your speaking engagements and events you will attend, research companies for prospecting and even demonstrate your expertise on a range of business topics in the Answers forum.
I’ve heard a lot about how referrals and introductions are made via LinkedIn, but I’ve yet to either meet or know of someone who has done this, nor have I experienced it myself. Still, I find it sort of useful to participate, although my ROI expectations are modest.
If you decide to delve into multiple 2.0 sites, I recommend that you use Google Alert or a similar service, to let you know when someone has posted a comment to one of your profiles, so that you can respond ASAP. Quick response is key. I also recommend that you use a service that will automatically post updates to all of your profiles. You might like ping.fm.
So ROI can be derived from social networking, perhaps for some more than others. We are in it now and there will be no turning back the clock, so why not make the best of it?
Do what makes sense for your business, but be mindful of the time you spend on the upkeep of this stuff. At the end of the day, I still say that there is no substitute for face to face networking. It can be augmented, but not replaced, by 2.0.
Thanks for reading,