The way you communicate in your business relationships is directly tied to your revenues, reputation, and success. Of course social media and technology are forcing us to set new rules, boundaries, and etiquette.
Back to grade school we go!
Here are the ABCs of outstanding social media and business communication:
A is for authenticity. In the case of social media and online networking, the old adage, “Fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t work. Genuine is in; fake is out. Be yourself.
B is for brand. Every message, tweet, blog and communication should reflect some hint of your brand and who you are.
C is for control. Be careful not to slam or insult anyone online as it can come back to bite you in ways you have never imagined.
D is for dialogue. Get involved in the conversations, groups, and chats with meaningful contributions that reveal both your expertise and personality. Communication is a two-way street.
E is for Easy Does It. Before you jump into conversations, take a look around. Follow chats, tweets, and groups. Find the opinion leaders, and movers and shakers. Then slowly get involved.
F is for forge relationships. Pay attention to your loyal followers, ideal client, and competition. Thank those who retweet or share your information with others and connect with them offline. Follow what others are doing and comment on their blogs and sites. Interactive is a beautiful thing.
G is for get in front. This is about being proactive and making things happen. It’s not about being aggressive, obnoxious, or ”in your face.” It’s subtle marketing, branding, and sharing value—online.
H is for headlines. Catchy news-style headlines of 5-8 words (including keywords) that address people’s needs/challenges will attract readers and followers—and help your SEO efforts.
I is for identify. Identify your niche. Identify your area of expertise and passion. Identify industry leaders. Identify trends in your field. Identify your ideal clients. We are in an amazing age where we have access to CEOs, prominent business leaders, and superstars that we never could have mingled with before. And don’t forget, identify your competition and watch them, too.
J is for just get going. Don’t whine that blogging takes too much time, or you’ll have to learn new technology. Look at social media and online networking as a breakthrough opportunity that the world has never experienced. Imagine the stories you’ll tell your grandchildren! If you want to bellyache instead of learn, get back in bed and pull the covers over your head. Everyone else is going places. It would be nice if you came along.
K is for knowledge. Know your followers, why they connect with you and what you provide to them. Then give them more of what they want. If you don’t know what they want, start asking them.
L is for limit your personal life when doing business. It’s great to share your personal insights or “lessons learned” but too much information about your private life when you are online to build your business reputation can backfire and destroy your credibility.
M is for mistakes. You’re bound to send out a message with a wrong link or misspelled word. Fix it if necessary, apologize, and move on. It happens to everyone. The nice thing about social media— especially Twitter— is that it’s a very forgiving community
N is for notice the little things. Someone may tweet or post a message about their birthday, the flu, or their upcoming presentation. A few quick words wishing them good luck or asking about the topic of a workshop helps build relationships. People appreciate being recognized.
O is for own it. Be passionate about what you do. Your enthusiasm will leak into all of your spoken and written words. Friends, followers and connections will pick up on this immediately. If you don’t own it and love it, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
P is for professional. Use your profiles, posts, and messages in professional ways. Present yourself online to prospects, clients, and the world as a top-notch pro who walks the walk and talks the talk. This should be evident in all of your social channels. It must be congruent with your traditional marketing materials, website, articles, and press releases, too.
Q is for quit trying to sell. If you post a link that offers tips, make sure it leads to a page with the information you promised, not a sales pitch to buy your book or register for a webinar to get the tips.
R is for rapport. Connect with people through your blog, links, articles, e-zines and videos. Give them an opportunity to get acquainted with you. Developing friendships online is similar to real-life friendships. You connect with some people immediately and others take more time. There are a few you will never click with. That’s OK. Go for quality, not quantity.
S is for sharing. Share your expertise, insights, wisdom and assistance. That’s what social media is all about. Be willing to donate the seeds of your intellectual capital, knowing you are building a brand and reputation that will eventually take root. In other words, share your smarts but don’t expect an instant Return-On-Investment.
T is for thank you. Express your gratitude and thanks to others who provide helpful information, share your messages, posts, and tweets with their circles. Acknowledge people when they comment on your blog and Linked In questions.
U is for use everything that’s available. Don’t get nervous. You don’t have to use all of the applications, gadgets, downloads and software at the same time and right now. Commit to learning a new technology or program and build from that. Use these tools to your advantage as you grow your business and online presence.
V is for visuals. Social media is interactive. There are different ways that people learn and communicate. Use a broad approach to include various styles and age groups. Pinterest, video press releases, and Instagram can help you get creative.
W is for write with clarity. Whether you are writing a white paper, short blog post, or question on Linked In, use language that is clear, concise and compelling.
X is for the ”X-Ray Approach.” In order to effectively communicate and relate to people, you’ll need to get inside their heads and emotions. Read their content, eavesdrop on chats, and ask good questions. You’ll soon be able to diagnose their pain (challenge) and determine if your products and services are the cure.
Y is for yell if you need any help. People love to help. Periodically toss out your questions or challenges to the crowd and allow them to connect with you. Tap into their experiences, ideas, and resources to help with your learning curve.
Z is for zany. Sure I talk about being professional and sharing your personality, but you can let your hair down in a zany and fun way. For example, on Christmas, my blog post was titled, Santa’s communication pitfalls. Another post that was lots of fun: 21 signs you’re a social media fiend. Maybe it’s not totally zany, put you get the picture. It’s OK to have fun!
Communicating online requires us to write the line, walk the line, read between the lines and often tow the line. Are you up for it? It can be as easy as A-B-C.
(Photo Credit: hav_time)