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8 Ways to Subtly Connect Online

October 03, 2011
 By special “TMcnet Online Community Connection” guest contributor Erin Korogodsky (@erinkoro), Social Media Quarterback- Lithium

I have spent the week here in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite cities in the world.  I never miss an opportunity to come here and was thrilled to represent Lithium on the panel, "How Social Media is Changing Customer Behavior."  I was lucky that my panel was first so I could join the rest of the CRM track at the ITEXPO.

Much of the conversation focused around how to engage in social media.  The audience asked some questions that I think are very common to people just getting their feet wet:  Where do I start?  What's the right tone? What should I say?  What shouldn't I say?  What should I share?  Do I HAVE TO HAVE a Twitter (News - Alert) account?  

I can see how this is a bit overwhelming to someone new to online engagement.  Lots of people would rather use the phone or email.  That said, it’s a good idea to meet people where they already are and if they're social online, then you have to be too.

This can be a tricky endeavor – you want to be subtle and not treat this like a sales call.  No one on Twitter wants to hear "have I got a deal for you!" 

I, myself, am normally about as subtle as a freight train.  Online, there's really no context and the last thing I want is to come across as a stalker over eager.  What I really want is to be noticed for adding value and show that there's synergy between me and another person (in my case, that would probably be a journalist or thought leader in the social space).   Luckily, at the ITEXPO (News - Alert), there were plenty of people offering up ideas for a more subtle approach.  Consider these a public "high five" and an entry point to begin a personal connection.  Here's a few that are helpful to me – if you're new to the tools listed below – not to worry!  You can get a lot of tips by searching for the tool on Youtube (example here).  

Here's the list – each explained below with more detail:

1)  Yes, get a Twitter account 

2)  If they blog, you comment

3)  Share a blog using the "share tools" directly on the post

4)  Click "Favorite" on a Tweet

5)  Add their blog post to your Company News Letter  

6)  Set up a Twitter List and call it something meaningful

7)  +K people on Klout 

8)  Build your own Dashboard with HootSuite or Co-Tweet or Seesmic (News - Alert) or TweetDeck

1)  Yes, get a Twitter account 

Sorry folks but whether you decide to Tweet or not, it’s key to have your own Twitter account.  I know, you don't have time. I know, you don't see the point.  You will.  (If you’re not on LinkedIn, get an account there too.) This is a great starting point to just watch the flow of conversation.  Having a Twitter account gives you the opportunity to describe yourself in a few short words.  If I'm trying to engage with someone, the first thing they want to know is "Who is this person?"  My description tells them briefly who I am and what we might have in common.  Because this is public, it’s also transparent.  With transparency comes trust – probably the biggest key to people allowing you into their circle.

2)  If they blog, you comment

Let's face it, I have an ego.  We all do.  When I write something online, there's a tiny little part of me (ok a big part of me) that wants to know that someone read it, someone cared about what I said and that someone thought enough of my work to read it and share it with their network.  I promise you that I'll read every single comment on this post.  No matter what you say, your comment will go into my little internal pride bucket.  Comment on posts.  The writer loves it but very few people actually do it – it’s a great way for you to stand out and demonstrate that you have something valuable and sincere to contribute, even if it’s just "thanks for your post, I learned a lot!".

3)  Share a blog using the "share tools" directly on the post

Here's an example of Jeremiah Owyang's blog – a must read for anyone diving into the social space.  He's literally asking people to share his stuff right on the blog.  Click on the "Tweet" button.  Click on the "Share on Facebook (News - Alert)" button.  Click on the "Share on LinkedIn" button.  Not only will you be sharing something valuable with your network but these things are all measured and tracked by the person that posted.  You are establishing yourself as part of the conversation and the blogger will notice.  

4)  Click "Favorite" on a Tweet

The tweeter gets a little email message that says, "Erin Korogodsky @erinkoro favorited your Tweet."  Yes, "favorited" is a new word.  My spell check has not caught on yet but I sure have.  This is a really subtle way to say, "I think that was awesome!."  

5)  Add their blog post to your Company News Letter

If Jeremiah wrote a post and you think, "My customers would get some value from reading this" then go ahead and add it to your company newsletter.  Send a message to the blogger letting them know you loved their post, along with the newsletter that it got "picked up" in.  They'll notice you and probably read that edition of your newsletter too.

6)  Set up a Twitter List and call it something meaningful

Turns out that I have been listed 120 times.  Just in case you thought I was hot stuff, Jeremiah has been listed 8,952 times.  But what's cool is that people's lists have a name like "Social media expert."  When other people add me to that list, I'm notified.  And my little pride bell goes off again.  I think, "expert? ME?"  (full discloser, I don't consider myself an expert, which makes this even more meaningful).  Naturally, I think, "who is this very smart and thoughtful person?"  I notice you for noticing me.

7)  +K people on Klout

Huh?  +K is Klout's version of the "like" button on Facebook with one big difference.  Klout will show the categories where a person seems to be engaging a lot.  Hitting the +K button shows that you agree with that persons Klout on the topic.  Once you hit the +K button, take the next step and Tweet it out.   Great way to subtly say, "Yep, you're an expert resource on the topic of X – thanks for sharing your knowledge!"  Klout actually limits the number of +K's you can give in a day.  That makes clicking that little button even more valuable.

8)  Build your own Dashboard with HootSuite or Co-Tweet or Seesmic or TweetDeck

Pick one and sign up.  They've all got free versions and a really easy way to add each of your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (News - Alert)) to one dashboard to manage all this.  This eliminates the excuse, "I don't have time."  Yes, you do.  It might take you a few moments to set up but then you're off and running with ease.  

You know the people who you need to connect with to be success in your work.  You may think that you don't have the time and that it’s just another "thing you have to add to your to do list."  Make the time.  You've got to meet people where they already are and demonstrate that you appreciate them before they'll appreciate you.  It’s just human nature.  So my last tip is to go old school – take 15 minutes when you get to work and share a few things.  Make a few comments on a blog.  "Favorite" a few tweets.  Add someone to your Twitter lists.  Then, when you have a real request, like, "May I interview you for my next blog post," they're much more likely to see you as a colleague and say yes.  

What experiences have you had with these techniques? Connect with us and join the conversation: Facebook  | LinkedIn | Twitter

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