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As a printer... I often wonder why I spend so much time with twitter, my blog, linkedin, and all those other social media sites. I mean really... doesn't that completely COUNTER what I am trying to do as a printing sales rep?

This engaging little online book reminded me why online networking is important...

What the F is Social Media?

So I guess Social Media is here to stay. I don't know about you all, but I definitely have gotten myself lost inside the more "social" aspect of social networking. I can spend HOURS tweeting away about my favorite facial product or the Steelers' game (ugh) last night. But in reality, how to we use these sites to advance our BUSINESS? That seems to be the million dollar question these days.

For me, I am starting out by simply using these to augment what I already do in non-online life. Or NonLine. if you will. I still do my cold-calls. I still do my emailing and prospecting. But I am trying to build up my online credibility. Clients will check up on you, and they like seeing who you are as a person. These outlets need to be seen as an opportunity for you to have touch-points with clients. And you don't have to do ANYTHING to get them!

First, get a good-looking photo of you in professional clothing. Non of this half-cropped face at the bar stuff. You need to look online the way you would present yourself in person.

Next, set up a LinkedIn page. This is as easy as uploading a picture and your resume to begin. There are much more complicated and intricate things that you can do on LinkedIn but I'll save those for later. To start - just get your page up and going.

After this, I recommend getting into Twitter and also starting a blog. These things can all complement each other and feed leads back and forth.

Finally, set up an established time each day that you will dedicate to updating these sites. For me, I try to do Twitter once in the morning for 10 minutes (UGH... I can get so carried away with this!) and once in the afternoon for the same amount of time. Don't just write about work - write about your personal life in a professional way. For example "Can't wait to go see that Twilight Movie tonight! Anyone been there yet??" This is an awesome way for you to find out your client's interestes and what THEY do on their personal time. DO NOT Tweet about questionable late-night activities or bar-top dancing.

Blog: I recommend blogging 2 times a week to start. Not that I have been able to keep up with that. Blogging takes a lot of time and you really DO need to have a topic. But for all intensive purposes, I'd recommend you use WordPress as your blog host if you are inexperienced (like me) and blogspot if you know what you are doing. WordPress is easy, dummy-proof, and shows you clearly where your traffic is coming from. Blogspot is great, but takes more time to set up and has fewer domain names available. For your entries, pick a topic and start it on the spot. I sometimes take 2-3 days to complete writing a blog that I started just because new ideas occur to me all the time. Also because I have to run spell-check, but that's beside the point. Finally, think of a catchy title that people will want to click on and insert an interesting picture that people will want to look at. Simple.

The final step is to post a link to your latest blog on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Be sure to give it a humorous tag line like "What the F**k Is Social Media??" (pat on the creator of that book's back here) and off you go.

The plus side of having these many different outlets is that you can "advertise" for yourself and cross reference people. I track hits to this blog from PrintJunkie.Net, Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn and I can see where the majority of my web-traffic comes from. I am testing my network to show a pattern that will help me to promote my business when the time arises. Next time we have a special deal, sale, or if I need information on a particular project - I know which network upon which I have the most influence. Also, I am connecting with clients, strangers, and potential new clients in an entirely new way. I mean you, reading this, you probably feel like you know a little bit about me having read some of my blogs. You may want to be my friend and (hopefully) would be interested in doing business with me should, should the opportunity ever arise. Or maybe you are just looking at my posts for laughs and giggles with your co-workers over the ideals of a sales rep still wet behind the ears.

Look, none of this is an exact science and I am definitely still working the kinks out. Regardless, this is a great place for you to start if you are new to the social media world. Get a good picture and then hit up Twitter, WordPress or BlogSpot, and LinkedIn.

Views: 1

Comment by Will Print on December 3, 2009 at 1:12pm
LMAO! The title cracked me up. Very true on many points.
Thanks for the laugh.
Comment by Tara "the Print-cess" Wagner on December 3, 2009 at 1:27pm
Thanks Will! Glad you enjoyed it! If you have any advice please add - like I said I am still learning.
Comment by Michael Jahn on December 8, 2009 at 5:00pm
One of the downsides of the ever more interconnected world is the the speed of light data can be shared, good or bad.

I am sure Tiger Woods would have preferred Twitter and FaceBook did not exist.

Comment by Todd Miller on December 8, 2009 at 6:30pm
You have shared some good advice here Tara - all of which I have done in the past just not as disciplined and regimented as you suggest. Consistency and diligence matters in sales. And SM is a great way to create and define both your personal and your professional brand.
Comment by Rick Cowles on December 14, 2009 at 10:56am
Hey, Tara - I posted a similar article back in September: http://www.printjunkie.net/profiles/blogs/generating-new-product-bu...

My experience with Print 09 was a prime example of how important that social networking on sites such as Twitter have (or will) become. Many aspects of social networking absolutely support (and enhance) marketing and sales efforts in the print industry. As I noted in my article, print isn't disappearing, but the industry is certainly retrenching. Social networking has become another necessary tool in my portfolio of personal (and professional) marketing strategies.
Comment by Jon Eric Sooy on December 21, 2009 at 6:31pm
Good post Tara. (by the way.. I'm not at the bar in my photo... at least not yet)

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