social networking means business

Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

I just got an email from a very smart professional whom I happen to like a lot.

We met on someone’s blog, followed each other “home,” and now see each other on social platforms pretty much daily.

We share each other’s links, support and tease each other on Twitter, and share brief direct message dialogues every now and again (no, not about you. Not the… time before last, anyway).

So what was the email about? It wasn’t a link to a “Join me at New Social Group.” It wasn’t a mass email. It wasn’t a casual hello.

It was an update about a business project we’re working on together.

You see, a couple of months ago we expanded our casual relationship into a much more serious one. And it’s one of the most pleasant business relationships I’ve ever had the pleasure of benefiting from.

We share both a personal and professional affinity that usually takes months for businesspeople to cultivate, even though we have yet to confide our heart’s deepest desire to each other.

What were the things that helped us wade from the “friendly acquaintance” into the “friendly business” end of the pool? Speaking only for myself, I can say I didn’t jump into it blindly.

Consistency – but not like you’d think.

And by that I don’t mean the same activity over and over. I saw consistency in quality of character and communication across multiple social channels. Because of it, I felt reassurred that the Smart Professional would fall within the same patterns in real life.

Don’t mistake consistency with routine. Consistency never gets stale.

When you blog, tweet, or post to Facebook, do it in a natural rhythm, not an imposed one. People aren’t recording or anticipating the exact moment in time they see you every week (there, there; I know it’s hard to accept), but they are paying attention to what they see when you do get in front of them.

Proof of professionalism.

The smart professional’s website was packed full of evidence of what the company was capable of, and the blog offered more proof of industry knowledge and practical experience.

I came back for more, not because I was looking for those services or even as a favor from one Twitter buddy to another, but simply because I expected to leave feeling smarter whenever I visited.

So when the business opportunity opened up, I actually felt proud to join such a happenin’ company.

Personable – not sticky.

As I mentioned, I don’t know every living detail about the other person, but I didn’t have to in order to feel completely comfortable beginning a business relationship. The vibe I got via our communications on social media was just right.

Being social on social media provides you the freedom to choose what level of “social” you want to give to each of the thousands of people you run into on any platform.

When you’re presenting yourself as a professional, put everything you want to post to the “sticky” test. Will people feel conflicted about who you are or what your motives may be after hearing a very personal story – and will that push your agenda forward?

If not, it’s not their business – at least, not until you’re ready to be friends.

Photo credit: Nicola Corboy, courtesy Flickr, CC 2.0.

Shakirah DawudShakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.