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This blog by Pat Price, MBA, “Maximize Your Career – Business Tools for Women over 50” conference speaker, first appeared on www.bizwomenover50conference.com

priceI spent over 20 years in the corporate world before going out on my own. And I have one major regret. I didn’t nurture my work relationships after I left. When I retired, I practically cut all the cords. Equally regrettable is that I didn’t’ branch out to expand my network while I was there. Luckily, I’ve seen the light and have been working to rebuild the old and create new relationships. And, social media makes developing and maintaining relationships easier than ever. “Why bother?” you might ask. Here are some of my favorite examples of the value of engaging in social media for business.

Create and nurture connections for better business

Business success is all about building relationships with prospects, customers, and other businesses. One of my best sources of referrals comes from a business owner who offers services that are complementary to mine. We rekindled a relationship after reconnecting through LinkedIn. That one bit of correspondence through LinkedIn has yielded thousands of dollars in business for us. Are you connecting with other businesses? Are you connecting with business owners outside your own generation? If you answered “no”, maybe it’s time to stretch your comfort zone.

Social media is also a great resource if you are stumped by a problem you’re facing in the business. Wondering which software package is better? Not sure how to tackle a challenging technical problem? Our company has posed questions to experts in our industry on social media to get their opinion of vendors, products, and technical issues. I’m always amazed at how giving and supportive our connections are. And it has saved us so much time and money to get the perspective of others who have already “been there, done that.”

Show thought leadership in your industry or niche

While it’s wonderful to tap into other experts, social media also has the advantage of allowing you to showcase your expertise. Through social media and blogging, you can build your authority and establish yourself as a thought leader. We get a kick out of having our tweets “favorited” by major publications. A small business like ours normally wouldn’t have that kind of national exposure. But with social media, anything is possible. So remember, if you want to capture more market share, you’ve first got to capture more mindshare. And with social media, you’ve got another tool to do just that.

Put a Face to Your Name

Even though you may not have met face-to-face, every blog post, tweet and social media post allows you to showcase who you are to everyone in your network, 24/7. Social media brings your brand’s persona to life through your conversations. Is your tone positive and upbeat, serious and formal, or helpful and chatty? What we say and HOW we say it gives the world a glimpse into what it’s like to do business with us. Our brand voice speaks volumes about our credibility, our integrity, and our personality. I’ve had people whom I’ve never met before say they feel like they already know me, just through our online relationship. And we all know that people prefer to do business with people they feel like they know and trust.

Speaking of getting to know people, I look forward to meeting YOU at the Business Women over 50 conference! Although social media is wonderful, it’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face. Here’s to the start of new friendships with like-minded, fabulous, kindred spirits!

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