The ‘net has changed the way all of us do business. There is no turning back. It is both exciting and daunting to look back at the incredible speed at which the internet has changed how humans interact and now anyone – including the housewife sitting at home in her jammies sipping coffee at the kitchen table – can conduct business without ever stepping foot out of their home. We can interact instantaneously with ANYONE – ANYWHERE – ANYTIME. It’s absolutely amazing.

If you have a small business, virtual or traditional bricks and mortar, and you are not utilizing the benefits of social networking, you are losing money and opportunities to grow your business and serve a broader customer base.

People LOVE interacting with other people. If people feel valued, that their opinion and thoughts and feelings are valued, they are happier and will keep coming back for more discussion. Social networking has opened up a communication that was previously unavailable. People can directly interact with you about your business like never before. It’s the best method of FREE advertising you will ever find. You can target hundreds or thousands of people notifying them of specials, new products, company updates such as new employees with literally a few keystrokes and 10 minutes of time. It used to cost us hundreds of dollars and a week waiting for publishing to get even remotely the same results. Seize the opportunity folks and become a part of the social networking generation!

Social networking, for the most part, can be COMPLETELY FREE.

Yes it can be a huge time-sucker if you allow it to be, so a word of caution is to be prudent with your time spent on it. It’s important to set specific times to check in (once or twice a day) so that you don’t get too drawn in. Pre-write any posts, updates or announcements so that you can just cut & paste when you’re ready

In our family business (emergency towing), we have chosen to maintain a Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Google Plus and have a Twitter account as well as advertising on a local news site that interacts with those tools. Initially the setup took some time, but the daily maintenance is generally 30 minutes or less to just check in once or twice, respond to comments and requests and perhaps post a special or comment on activity within the company during that day.This has produced a huge boost in visibility for our trucks, our company, our family and as a result, financially.

I will have more articles up shortly on how to set up basic accounts with each of the above listed social networking sites with tips, tricks and cautions that should be addressed.

Most importantly, please don’t be afraid of social networking. Many people are saying they don’t “do” Facebook because they are concerned about privacy issues or don’t want to get sucked in. That’s a cop-out. You’re losing money and opportunities to grow your business by resisting the technological advances that have been afforded to us. USE THEM wisely and you will see a difference in your bottom line.

Don’t forget to stop back by regularly! New articles and information on how to best implement social networking for your company will be posted regularly. Subscribe to our feeds in the upper right column.