Knowing of the power social media now has, how can you put it to work for your business? The good news is, if you've already been promoting your business, you've already got the skills to do it. The same rules of promotion apply online. You just need to change your mindset a little.
For example, there's the sense of scale. Say you drum up business for your company at a trade show on the Strip in Las Vegas attended by 1,000 people. With social media you're now dealing with millions of people who are all conversing on the World Wide Web.
But the scale doesn't stop there. Imagine that you can hear every single conversation that is taking place at your Vegas trade show. Now imagine that you can engage in every one. Then multiply it by 200, 400, 500. That's the potential - and the power - of social media.
You must remember at this point that "engaging" does not equal "selling." The key to using social media is social. In order to make social media work properly for you, you need to start by listening. Tune in to the buzz around the media, and of course listen to what they're saying about you. Keep in mind this is the kind of listening that goes beyond Google. It means subscribing to alerts and RSS feeds. It means keeping tabs on things through the likes of Technorati and search.twitter.com.
When you think you've listened all you can, listen some more. Get an idea of what you've stepped into and its way of doing things. This is not simply wasting time getting to know the territory. You are using the time to eavesdrop, pull in information, and organize for the next steps.
The next step is to begin to build relationships as your business participates as an entity. Keep in mind to move slowly. At our hypothetical convention, you wouldn't walk over to a group in mid-conversation and start selling your product. You don't do it on the web, either. Like any other social interaction, there's give and take involved. Remember why you have two ears but only one mouth.