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While many businesses work with social media to grow their target market audience, there is so much opportunity to meet with and connect with other business owners. You can share advice, find service providers, promote one another’s content, connect each other to resources and other people. In short, if you’ve got friends…you’ll go far.

Always take the time to create and nurture these relationships when participating in social media. A few things you can do:

  • Join a group or a forum to meet likeminded business owners. Facebook and LinkedIn have the opportunity to create and join groups, but good old fashioned message boards are a great social connector as well. And yes, forums are the original social networks, so they’re included.
  • Help others first, before expecting anything in return. Offer advice, provide content, ask if you can record a webinar and do all the work. Fellow business owners are so busy and it makes it difficult to cut through the noise to make a meaningful connection, but by first offering to help someone, it’s easier to grab attention.
  • Take it offline and connect with people directly, not just through status updates. Check out sites like Meetup.com, create your own meet up or attend seminars and other business events. There is nothing like cementing a connection by meeting face to face.
  • Take another look at LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is a network of professionals, it’s one of the best venues to make B2B connections. It’s a network that can help you find service providers and joint venture partners. You can get answers to your business questions, share your own business expertise and more.

Remember Your Audience

Just a word of warning when B2B networking. It’s important to keep your audience in mind when broadcasting on your social networks. Your customers may not be interested in business topics, but your B2B connections are.

For example, on Google+, use the Circles feature to identify and communicate with your B2B contacts.
On Facebook, you can separate contacts into Lists, so you only broadcast status updates to certain individuals. Always be mindful of this, so your information is targeted to the right audience.

And again, join specific groups and forums for your business connections. These will allow you to speak more freely and stay on target with what the audience wants to hear.

Being Approachable

Not only do you want to actively seek out new people to connect with, you also want it easy for people to approach you. You can ensure you’re approachable in a few ways, including:

  • Have a detailed profile that shows what you are interested in. This is particularly important on professional networks like LinkedIn and forums.
  • Respond to messages directly and in a timely manner. Don’t get so big for your britches that you think you can simply ignore people.
  • Participate in discussions other people are having. Share your thoughts, ideas and be generally helpful. Helpfulness makes you much more approachable.

Trying to run a business completely on your own is doing it the hard way. There are so many opportunities to meet and mutually benefit from relationships with other business owners. Whether you’re looking for a graphic artist, can’t figure out what’s wrong with your web code or need a partner for your next project, when you’ve got a network of business contacts, it’s much easier to get things done.