Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about social networking as it applies to technology. This has been a subject hat caught my interest early-on as I’m focused on Relationship Marketing and how to build communities.
Much of what has been done with many networks has emphasized the signing up part with little, practical business value. Everyone wants everyone else to sign up and “friend” each them. However, nothing much happens in most cases after you’ve signed up and been “friended.” It reminds me of an offline model going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting where everyone is swapping cards hoping to get business. Touting how many “friends” you have in many of these networks would be like bragging about how many business cards you’ve accumulated over the years! Unless serious business comes from it, your activity is a waste of time.
Relationship Marketing is serious about profitable business. It is not about getting a bunch of business cards and claiming to be “friends” with a large number of people whom you have merely met and exchanged business cards. It is more like farming. I like to use the phrase “Relationship Farming” to describe the work, effort and persistence that is required to yield a good “harvest” in business.
Social Networking With Substance
Business management needs to be treated as a profession. That is the premise of the Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM). This organization provides the training for a CBM (Certified Business Manager) and CABM (Certified Associate Business Manager to individuals who complete a prescribed series of modules. Much like getting a business degree this provides time-honored training.
A benefit of the CBM is the comprehensive and integrated approach they take. Rather than specializing in one distinct area, a recipient of their CBM gets training in accounting, management, marketing and more. It is based on what one often earns in a traditional MBA program.
The benefits of such a program from a social networking concept are that you gain contact with others based on a level of expertise, not presence at a particular meeting. Think of needless “networking” events you’ve been to in the past.
I spoke with Ms. Devi Vallabhaneni, the President and CEO of APBM about the benefits of earning such a credential. She cited the benefits of having a comprehensive exposure to many fields. In today’s fast-changing environment this is critical for success.
Social networking is not just about swapping business cards. As APBM stresses and practices, it is about connecting with others and gaining competent, credible skills and knowledge in highly business-relevant areas.
If you want to enhance general business knowledge, this is a credential and an association you’ll want to investigate. Go to www.apbm.org for more information. The combination of skill building and networking can enhance your career and future.
Zoho – Complete Business Management On The Net
This is a great service for managing contacts, documents, slide shows, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and more. This promise of this system is to have everything you need in one easy-to-reach place.
When I signed up for Zoho I was quite impressed with the simplicity of it and ease of use. However, there was a show-stopper that hurt. When I tried to import my contacts through the standard format (CSV) it only allowed the entry of a first or last name. You could not bring in both. Ouch!
A quick call to tech support was answered rapidly (a very good sign). The person I spoke with didn’t have the answer and transferred me to another department. After about 60 seconds wait (not too shabby!), I spoke with a very kind person who told me a new version is on the way and should be out in about a month to handle first and last names. I figured that since most people I know have at least a first and last name, this would be a good thing!
Bottom Line On Zoho: This is a great concept and product for small businesses. As I browsed through the various modules I was dazzled by what is offered. For most small businesses, this tool alone would provide functionality for running your business and staying in touch with customers. Pricing for 1-3 people is free. That is worth trying on its own! Wait about a month and make sure you can bring in the full names of people you have on your existing database. Other features will be added as they proceed but this is a tool that is getting started, is addressing a huge need and is the most reasonably priced tool for addressing this critical function. Go to www.zoho.com for more information.
Social networking is critical today, as it has been always in business. Smart businesspeople focus not just on the networking and the “getting to know you” part but on the skill-building and Relationship Management. Find out how you can help the other person and inevitably you benefit.
Relationship Marketing is about building strong, profitable relationships with people who believe in value for value. These tools can help to enhance your pursuit of that.
Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.