Businesses and individuals increasingly see the value in online social media for industry connections or introductions and clearly for employment opportunities. Beyond these are company branding, business reputation management, and professional business networking. It is true that online networking can degenerate into the kind of networking event where you show up and everyone else is there to sell you what they have. But most online social networking can be contained to the important kind, not just a virtual room of vulturous vendors. “Old Style” professional connections are not dead, they’ve just met up with the latest technology tools. These tools, such as LinkedIn (very B2B), Facebook (evolving to more B2B from a college-oriented service at it’s start), and MySpace (very B2C and younger) let your firm have an online page or presence with it’s own fans. These connections are individuals connecting to the business. Some list current and former employees. They are increasingly tied to other feeds, maybe your great press coverage. In any case, a forum where your firm and customer experiences are discussed. Beginning to see the value in monitoring and participating? The better known online social media services enable personal or professional, 1-to-1 connections. These services provide access and information on you and your firm. Here is a minimal plan for a social media presence for you and the company: – Customer-facing employees should be on LinkedIn and Facebook, and participate – The company should have it’s own page on LinkedIn and Facebook – Employees should have a photograph on their LinkedIn page – most do not – Press releases and news should be aggregated on the company Website and probably via online services, such as del.icio.us (also now at Delicious.com), Digg.com, Reddit.com, or StumbleUpon.com – News and events can be posted on Twitter. Direct messages or replies on Twitter should be monitored, so you may respond – engaging with the audience for your firm. There it is, a straightforward way to implement social media at your company. Remember that these tools represent are an innovation – just like any new tool that you might adopt for the business – so think of Social Media tools as part of the company’s continual improvement program. (I’m a fan of W. Edwards Deming, a famous proponent of quality and continual improvement). Call Jim at 770/642-2080, x218 to talk more about social media for business.