By now, most of us know that effective business development and networking requires a two-pronged approach. You need to put your best foot forward not only in the physical world of face-to-face networking (meetings and conferences), but also in the digital world of social networking.
Networking events such as AMI’s upcoming Global Procurement Day on October 5, are potentially lucrative opportunities for developing new relationships and securing face-to-face meetings with key decision makers.
Our focus here is on the online front and we’re happy to offer some valuable tips for strengthening your digital presence and social marketing efforts. These activities do take a bit of effort and time, but the return on your investment can be considerable.
Let’s take a closer look at two business social network powerhouses and how to get the most out of them—LinkedIn (of course) and the American Meetings Network, our online platform and social network. And remember: Starting small is fine and usually recommended. Just get started!
To be successful on LinkedIn you need to do three things:
1) Create a strong profile that represents you on your best day;
2) Create useful and engaging content that is begging to be liked and shared;
3) Grow your following (constantly)
- Create a strong profile
Likely the best place to start is by making sure that your LinkedIn company page is complete. Be sure that it includes your logo, a background photo, and all pertinent company information (for example, URL, year founded, size, specialties). Include enough detail so that your potential customers and partners get a clear picture of who you are and what you offer.
- Create useful and engaging content
Once your company profile is in good shape, you’ll want to regularly share updates. These can be job postings, company news, industry perspectives, or just about anything else that would be of interest to your audience. Think about sharing content that your followers will “like” and ideally share. Company updates can take many forms, including text and links; images; SlideShare presentations, or a YouTube video. If you’re not sure what makes the most sense for your company, you can always check out what companies that you admire or perhaps compete with do.
If your company has ongoing initiatives or multiple facets to your work or services, you might want to consider creating one or more Showcase Pages on LinkedIn. These are basically subpages for your brand that let you share updates about that area.
- Build your following, constantly
Of course, if your excellent content reaches only a very small audience it will not do much for you. So, here are some tips for growing your followers and reach.
First, encourage all your employees and subcontractors to list your company page as their place of work. This will automatically sign them up as followers of your company.
Second, you can grow your followers by including a LinkedIn follow button on your website or your blog, and you can link to your company page in your email signatures. Don’t forget to invite partners or clients to follow you on LinkedIn. As long as your updates are useful to them, they’ll be thankful.
You can also grow your following by participating actively in the LinkedIn ecosystem. It is good practice to follow other companies and like, share, and comment on their updates. Another strategy is to explore and join some groups in your field. LinkedIn hosts countless Groups, which are ways for professionals with overlapping interests to connect and share ideas, questions, and updates. Participating in industry discussion groups is an opportunity to be a good citizen: helpful, kind, and knowledgeable.
The American Meetings Network
Being successful in the American Meetings Network isn’t so different from our LinkedIn tips above, but membership gets you closer to specific opportunities in your area of expertise. As a member, you get access to over 63,000 meeting planners and it includes a robust search tool. Your company, or you if you are an independent consultant, will have your own business profile and you can search the supplier directory, connect with planners, and view sourcing opportunities. Our network is one of the best places to be if you are in the meeting industry. Membership also includes access to Social.AmericanMeetings.com, a social networking site.
To get the most out of American Meetings Network consider the following tips.
- Make sure your business profile is complete
Be sure that your profile includes the most current information and that you have taken advantage of our video interviewing service. Ask yourself whether your profile and video offer a clear picture of your company, its values and its services.
- Be active and engaged
We recommend that you regularly browse opportunities, and follow as many meeting planners and suppliers as possible. Our sourcing managers also send out a weekly email that includes sourcing opportunities. And check Social.AmericanMeetings.com for upcoming events and other news.
- Come to Global Procurement Day.
AMI’s Global Procurement Day on October 5 in Fort Lauderdale is a great opportunity for suppliers who are members of the American Meetings NetworkTM to connect face-to-face, with procurement officers from Fortune 500 companies and AMI meeting planners. Face-to-face events, like this one, are essential counterpoints to digital marketing efforts. Our planners and sourcing managers come with their book of business, and they’re ready to talk and lock in suppliers. Network membership at the Prime or Plus levels includes a discounted rate to attend Global Procurement Day.
Learn more about Global Procurement Day and how to join American Meetings Network. You can also contact Josie Rubio, Director of Talent & Business Development, jrubio@AmericanMeetings.com, (954) 315-0428. We hope to see many of you on October 5!