LISTnet's Women in Technology: Social Media for Business Development
On February 11, 2016, LISTnet's Women in Technology met at LaunchPad Huntington for a presentation given by Ellen Williams, CEO of B2B R&D, on how to use LinkedIn and Twitter for Business Development. Ellen explained to the captive audience that before you can put together a plan for business development, you have to visualize your long-term value, target customer, and market. Once you do that, you can create a plan and use social media to find the right people to partner with in order for both parties to benefit. It’s also very important to think creatively about who you can partner with. One example that Ellen discussed was the partnership between Starbucks and Barnes & Noble. Before this partnership, it was tough to get coffee at a bookstore but now the two are nearly synonymous. Thinking outside the box on a creative partnership led to success for both companies and can lead to you being viewed as a thought-leader in your industry.
Social media can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, keeping in mind the customer that you are targeting, you want to think about the different things that person would be interested in and then contribute to that conversation so you can show your value and get visibility. One of the capabilities of Twitter is that it categorizes conversations by the hashtags used. This allows for various companies to lead “chats.” You can create an account on Tweet Chat, which will allow you to be part of the conversation in real time.
With LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to provide more commentary on topics of interest, whereas, on Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters. You can also use the site to publish articles and show your expertise in a particular area. One of the ways to maximize the benefit of this site is to search for your target and then look at the groups the target has joined. You can then join the same group and find out what’s important to that person. This will help you tailor your approach so it is genuine and (hopefully) does not come off as a sales pitch.
Social media is a great tool to use for business development, but you need to do your homework. If you send people generic requests to connect, chances are they will not be successful. However, if you take the time to find out what is important to them and tailor your approach, it becomes much more collaborative and, ultimately, effective.
Ellen walked us through a few exercises that we can use to help develop our business development plans. She gave us some great tips and I can’t wait to try them out.