Do you network? Do you go out to conferences and mixers and tweetups and unconferences with the express goal of making new connections, listening to new voices, adding people to your “collection”. Do you actively manage your LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter? When Scoble mentions someone’s interesting tweet do you immediately check it out and then Follow that individual. If Chris Brogan blogs about a startup doing something cool, or if Deb Schultz posts an link that she finds inspiring on her do you check it out, add that person to your RSS feed/facebook/, Digg? Do you spend a little time after every conference or meeting, take the business cards you received, entered them into outlook, send them an email, see if they are on LinkedIn, add their RSS feed, check out their twitter, look at their youtube channel?

Does your Social Media effort do the same?

Networking in your business life is a great parallel to Social Media Outreach. With Networking, you find people with interesting or similar ideas/thoughts/backgrounds/experience and add those people to your personal network. In the process, you become a member of lots of different communities/tribes/circles. You manage, maintain, grow and tend these connections and relationships because its important, because no one can be an island in business and because we are social animals who can always learn something from someone else.

A Social Media Effort, if it wants to succeed, needs to connect with the users in lots of different communities/tribes/circles. Conversations can’t happen without people. SoMe efforts need to build/maintain and tend these relationships in order to get noticed, stay relevant and keep the conversation going. If users/voices/people are the fuel in the social media “engine”, not working at connecting with them is nuts.

Are you identifying the places and spaces users frequent that fit within these themes? Are you connecting with the thought leaders, active participants and old hands in these communities, sites, forums, comment streams? Are you actively listening to these voices and their blog posts, twitter feeds, Flickr pools and links? Are you managing your network, er uh, Outreach program to get in touch, stay in touch and contribute to their conversations as well as your own.

Are you paying forward into Social Media’s equivalent of a 401k (relationships) by being an active participant? Or are you waiting and wondering why more users arent joining in?

To Do:

Build an RSS feed of users who you would WANT to follow you AND LISTEN TO IT

Build an RSS feed of the users who ARE following you AND LISTEN TO IT

You are joining multiple communities, think like a NEIGHBOR NOT A MARKETER

Listen to what they are talking about (twitter, blogs, facebook, flickr), what they are passionate about – NOT JUST THE MENTIONS OF YOUR URL OR BRAND NAME

Say Thankyou for their Follows, Comments, mentions, trackbacks, blogposts

Comment on their ideas, as Bob from INSERT MASSIVE COMPANY HERE, not a pseudonym – bait and switch is not a sustainable strategy

Respond to their Tweets, comments, forum posts, flickr pool additions

Encourage them, give support, add value, say something. Or, as Mark from My Tropical Escape likes to put it, “BE HUMAN”

Point out what they are doing at least 50% of the time

Send the link love (attention is a currency)

Let them see there are real people behind your Social Media effort

Long before the cocktail parties, schwag distribution, mixers or tweet-ups or blogger meetups, you need to connect with real people and not only what Valleywag calls The 250. Influencers are important, but there are more regular Joes out there than all the A-listers in the world. You need to develop relationships. You need to build a network, through Outreach, around your social media efforts.

The same determination and discipline you apply to maintaining your network you need to apply to your company’s outreach program. Because its ALL NETWORKING

4 thoughts on “Outreach is Networking… for your Social Media efforts

  1. Howard Greenstein

    Excellent post, Sean. I was just thinking about this topic, and you’ve laid it out quite well. Thank you!

  2. Sean Post author

    thanks Howard… been preaching this for a while and finally put it to paper… it needs some work and a little more explanation

    Net-net – you need to invest the time, and the thankyou notes, and the comments, and the tweets, and the attention into these relationships. Do you “work” your rolodex? Does your Social Media effort “work” its relationships (and I dont mean Spam the bloggers or forums or influencers – I mean “hey Howard – loved the post, have you seen this?”… be Human

  3. GirlPie

    “Be human” is great advice Sean — I think you’ll enjoy how the swell Havi Brooks over at reminds us to do it — song and dance and everything:

  4. Sean Post author

    @GirlPie – I wish I could take credit for it, but thats ALL Mark from

    thanks for the comment, and I will check out that link

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