By Matt Brady
I recently published a blog entry about the new internet phenomenon that is social networking and small businesses. Today, a story surfaced about how only 8% of SME executives use social networking sites such as Facebook and Live Spaces. According to John Davis, Marketing Director for Barclays Local Business:
"The new world of the internet is still to catch on, especially for networking, as entrepreneurs would rather go to a formal networking event rather than make contact with people online where only nine per cent do any networking."
In my opinion, social networking sites (now no longer used by teens and students alone) offer exciting new opportunities to contact and engage with similarly-minded people, discover new physical events, make yourself known and share advice.
As this form of networking is online, you don't have to go anywhere to meet new people, and it's constantly available, allowing you to jump in with a question or add a new contact whenever you feel like it. Plus, you can join social networking sites free of charge. With new members, applications, events and groups added every week, social networking is continuing to develop, offering fresh opportunities all the time.
Paul Walsh, founder of web specialists Segala, explains how he benefits from using Facebook, a social networking site, on his blog (the post is described by marketing consultant Hugh MacLeod as a compelling case for business people to sign up):
I use Facebook as my shop window, into which you can see who I am, who I know, what I stand for, what I’m working on, where I am and anything else I’d like you to know...Facebook enables me to ‘engage’ with friends and colleagues on a regular basis. It helps me to build new relationships and strengthen current ones seamlessly. It even helps my close friends and I to communicate more frequently.
In the social networking world, you can join any number of groups relevant to your needs or interests. In Facebook, for example, the following 3 may be of interest:
MSN Groups offers further networking opportunities. There are 162 listed UK-based Small Business Groups, such as mumtrepreneurs, Design For Business, Business Contacts UK and Business Opportunities UK. Joining a group costs nothing.
If you have a home business, check out the Enterprise Nation Community Channel, and if you're a female entrepreneur, take a look at the Networking section on everywoman, a site for women in business.