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n word

Networking is the word…Networking! Were you thinking it was something else? lol

The power of networking and its potentials are highly underrated! Running a business would open your eyes to so many things that we never would have noticed! The dot-com age has even made global networking a lot more easier with sites like Facebook, My Space, Hi5, Twitter etc.

Let’s take the biggest of them all and the one I’m most conversant with- Facebook. Facebook has over 20 million users world-wide. It is like a resource begging to be discovered. It has three (3) very useful marketing applications.
Groups where people with like minds & ideas meet and discuss or businesses invite people to communicate.
Pages where fans of actors, athletes, business people, celebrities, comedians etc get to communicate, get updates of special sales/concerts, giveaways and future appearances.
Marketplace where individual(s) can post items up for sale in any category.
I utilize the three because they help and because they work!

I’ll start with the groups. I started with three (3) groups- Pearl Creations, The All-Me Buttons and The National Buttons. I invited all my [then] 200 friends to all three groups when I started in 2008. Later, I started inviting new friends to only the last two (2) groups and customers to Pearl Creations. Now, recently I was looking through the button groups each with over 330 members half of which I didn’t even know or invite! Some saw the group on a friend’s page and joined. Others saw it in the mini feed, some read about the concept and joined. Now, when I send a message about new buttons, all these known and unknowns get them and word gets out easy!

Later, I changed “Pearl Creations” to “The SKA Group”. Then when I decided to stop spamming; and changed “The All-Me Buttons” to “Pearl Kreations”, added the photos of the National Buttons tot he group. Then I changed The “National Buttons” to “Suave Clothing”. Recently closed the latter two (2). Now I have just one: Pearl Kreations.

Next, the pages. People get to read about me. How? When a page is generated, it is automatically advertised on the page sides of facebook and in the mini feed. And with a catchy name like Mr.Buttons, African sounding name like Kay-Adade or even seeing a young man’s face on either, it is bound to attract attention. Once people like the page, it goes to the first tab according to your setting…mine is personal info. And mine begins with my lineage and birth date which attracts people in my cohort/generation – they coincidentally make up a big part of Pearl Kreations’ consumer base. More exploration of my page will lead you to the links to the websites, blog site and Facebook group, which some end up joining. That’s how I get more people! You can also send short updates to your fans/likers.

Right now, there are 2 pages: Sylvester II O. Kay-Adade and The SKA Group. I closed Mr. Buttons because that was a phase. Now, I’m not only into buttons anymore. I’m older, diversified and now totally business-oriented so I want to be known by my real name. I have one for The SKA Group so that each subsidiary can have its own album – making everything organized; rather than having numerous groups and having to an email numerous times, everything pertaining to any of the subsidiaries is sent through one avenue!

Finally, the marketplace. Facebook users can use the application like eBay. The only difference is when you post an item, it’s free! I started using it to sell textbooks I used in past semesters and it proved to be very effective except for the occasional fraudsters or scam artistes. When I started making buttons, I used to put up the photos of the special, limited edition buttons we had available (for like mothers’ day buttons, valentine’s day buttons, a showing movie’s buttons).

From all this you can tell I did my homework…regarding networking via Facebook. Now, I’m diversifying. Opened twitter accounts too. One for me and one for the business. Got to separate the mind of the man from the mind of the business. I like Twitter because everyone sees you message in their time line, people can re-tweet it and then people on their timeline see it…it’s just terrific!

The SKA Group always advertises new products and with photos too. I re-tweet the good ones.
The only problem is getting followers! I have to be interesting for people to wanna follow you. And @SuaveSly presently has more followers than @TheSKAGroup does 😦 . By the way, another cool thing is you can also use hashtags (#). They enable people with a passion for a common cause and interest find each other. So when communicating, you can get a target market. For example, a message from Pearl Kreations could contain: #buttons and #ironmanmovie. Put that together in an update and you have “buttons, iron man”! That attracts the attention of Iron Man fans, movie buffs and button collectors! 😀

Funny story…so a friend helped me get three (3) buttons sold one day in spring last year. The previous day, he had his watchmen movie button on, a guy saw it on his jacket, told him he liked it and asked him where he got it from…and I got contacted! That guy bought three (3) buttons, but also gave me a partnership offer…because believe it or not, he’s also an entrepreneur. He thinks we can work together because he run’s an online trading site. We’ll meet sometime after our finals are over to talk business. Right there was good networking. I know I only stated technological networking advantages, but clearly, people also help! Making friends and getting acquainted with people is another way to grow and network.

I have an expressionless face which makes it hard to tell what I’m feeling or thinking (not necessarily a bad thing). Now,  apart from that, I sometimes have a dont-talk-to-me-if-you-dont-have-something-sensible-to-say aura about me (now that could be bad for business), so these days, I’m working on myself and learning to:
– Smile.
– Be friendly and meet new people – in the flesh, and not just on Facebook or Twitter.
– Introduce myself not only as a student, but also as an entrepreneur.
– Tell/talk to these new people I meet about what I do and possibly give out my business cards! 🙂

Sometime ago, I also decided to be not too formal with clients and customers as well. I tried, but I can’t do it. I just like keeping business, business. If we meet outside the business circle, we can be friendly. Anyway, while being informal, I actually got some orders! Most of them came from people who ordered just because I decided to talk with them on an informal basis. Others had previously planned to, but had forgotten to, but when I said hi and they remembered!

Networking is key!

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