Combine the ability to disseminate information globally in seconds with the fact that Web promotion is much cheaper than traditional media, and it comes as no surprise that the Web has turned into a monstrous PR machine…especially when it comes to promoting yourself. When you spend time building up your number of online connections, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Most people make the mistake of relying solely on online means to grow their social networks. Here are several offline network-growing activities that are worth further exploration if you’re serious about building up your contacts.
Business Cards. Yes, you can get them free. And yes, you can print them yourself. But if you really want to stand out from the pack, I advise getting a card that has a unique shape or texture and include links to your social networking profiles. (If the URLs are too long, at the very least, include the icons to show that you are a member). Personally, I love Moo cards.
Do not be afraid to hand out your card. I am a big believer that it is important to connect with everyone. Give cards to shop keepers, family members and toll booth clerks! Wherever there is an exchange, find a way to slip your card into the mix.
The easier you make it for people to find you, the better. Including social media icons on your card is a nice touch, but it’s even more important to let people know how to find you. The less guesswork you give them, the better chance they’ll make the jump from something physical (the business card) to something digital.
TIP: Keep your name consistent throughout all social networks. If you’re William, be William – not Bill.
Pens. Consider picking up some pens or other inexpensive promotional item that tells people where they can find you online. People like free stuff and pens are the original “viral” campaign. Items will set you back several cents each, but if you’re looking to grow an audience or sell a product/service, these items can pay for themselves rather quickly. T-shirts, while a bit pricier, are also a great way to raise awareness that you can be found online.
Sponsor a Charity. Everywhere you turn, there seems to be a 5K race to cure some hideous disease. Many smaller groups will give you or your business name-recognition if you contribute above a specific amount. This space can be used to promote your online profiles. Instead of saying sponsored by Andrew Rosen, I’d rather say, Sponsored by Twitter.com/Jobacle. This is a great way to give back to a charity you care about, get a tax break, AND promote yourself.
Mobilize Friends and Family. We all have our own personal cheerleading section, but so few of us tap into this free PR. It’s often said that if you’re looking for a job you should let everybody know; well the same goes for your social media presence. Tell your trusted confidants to tell everyone they know to tell someone they know that you are on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook, etc.
Go Driving. Your vehicle, the one which you use to commute to work and buy milk at the store, is one of the most visible items that you own. If you’re driving anyway, why not use your vehicle as a messenger? Custom-made license plate frames (where legal) and door-side car magnet can let people know where to find you on the Web, and potentially spark interesting relationships that would have never been uncovered otherwise. Granted, this tactic can backfire. You run the risk of being easily identifiable (i.e. – now someone is leaving nasty comments on your profile because they perceive that you cut them off).
Successful marketing campaigns generally have online AND offline components. When looking to expand your online network, don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Any tips on growing your social network offline that you’d like to share?