Are you LinkedIn and linked up?

Social media can be a bit overwhelming. You're working hard to stay afloat. You've reinvented your business by adding new products and services. You spend more time working on proposals, beating the bushes to keep work in the pipeline, and trying to do more with less staff. And now you hear that you should be more active in social media. Well, you're hearing it right.

And while you're using your social media outlets to make yourself more available, to let people know that you are open for business and to establish your authority in your field, you can easily miss yet another advantage social media offers. Social media can be an educational resource. Use it!

Recently a client asked about the pros and cons of different window materials. In the old days I would have called up my local window guy and set an appointment for the client to get an overview from him. Today I want to be the resource ... not the referral. No, I don't want to sell windows, but I do want to be able to answer questions and be knowledgeable beyond my trade.

So, what did I do? I could have visited a local window supplier and asked questions. The problem there lies with scope. Even the most knowledgeable supplier is limited by the products he sells. I could have hit the internet and fallen into a black hole for a day, gleaning pieces of information here and there. Or, I could reach out to my connections on LinkedIn and to the LinkedIn world beyond my connections.

I joined a window group and posted a question. I asked for a comparison of fiberglass and wood windows. Of course, I did get some sales speak, but I also received useful and unbiased information. There was conversation and discussion, connections were made and new resources added to my address book. I'm now comfortable discussing windows with clients beyond double hung vs. casement. I spent minimal time and received maximum results.

You'll find a group for almost every service and product on LinkedIn. While it may not be the best source for business to consumer promotion (or it may be, but that's another post), it is the meeting place for professionals from every industry. And most are willing to share their expertise with you.

Social media is yet another resource. Make use of it.

Not on LinkedIn? Sign up at http://www.Linkedin.com. Check out the groups in your industry. No group? Start one. Some good connections and groups to get you started or to add to your existing connections or groups:

ForResidentialPros                                       

Rob Heselbarth

Maureen Alley                                                

Todd Vendituoli

Bonnie Pickartz

Friends of NAHB

Until next time...build boldly!

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