What is an eCommunity? It is a question I hear often, and it is usually followed by an answer that does not do more than scrape the surface of this powerful tool.
The term eCommunity has been used to describe Facebook and MySpace type networks, but this is a limited view of what has the potential to be a very powerful business networking and marketing tool.
Let’s start by redefining what the term eCommunity actually means. Each of us has the tools to create a network (or community) of contacts and connections that is aided – even driven by – technology.
In other words, your eCommunity is really what used to be defined as your Rolodex, and the personal relationships you could call on by phone or in person.
The Internet has now provided a way for us to completely redefine our “business/personal community,” and more importantly, how we nurture and grow it. By making a conscious effort to leverage the new tools available, we can take dramatic strides in reaching our business goals.
“How to I begin?” you ask.
#1 Sign up for Plaxo Pulse and use it to keep your contacts up to date.
#2 Sign up for LinkedIn and use it to formalize your network contacts and connect to their contacts.
#3 Build a Facebook profile and use it to communicate in a deeper way with contacts with whom you work regularly. In addition, this is a great way to introduce yourself to new contacts.
#4 Join an industry eCommunity that puts you in the stream of conversations about the industry in which you work.
How it works
These four communities will provide you with built-in tools that allow you to build and manage your community.
For example, LinkedIn allows you to make contact with prospects with a warm invite instead of a cold call.
Plaxo Pulse will automatically keep your contacts updated, so you never lose anyone and will always be notified of useful data including work anniversaries and birthdays.
Facebook applications allow you to update your activities and projects so your “friends” can keep track of your progress. This is very useful when your “friends” are all business contacts who you want to keep up to date on your professional projects.
15 minutes twice a week
Business people who have invested in this new technology are seeing a significant return on investment.
A couple of weeks ago, I assisted a second-level contact gather information for a professional presentation. He was looking for stories from people who had recently experienced bad customer service, and by reaching out to his eCommunity, he was able to gather the information he needed from sending one email.
I also had recent success using LinkedIn to track down a former board member of mine with whom I had lost contact. Upon reconnecting through LinkedIn, I called her, filled her in on my latest activities, and was able to re-establish an important business relationship that will assist me with a current opportunity I am working.
You, too, can have such success with a small investment in time.
Find some time to set up your profiles and get yourself started. Then set up a meeting with yourself for 15 minutes twice a week, and take the time to do one more thing to bolster your online presence and strengthen your online community.
Don’t be left on the sidelines with only your Outlook contact list as your eCommunity. It takes only a small investment of time in order to have a tool that you can leverage for great results.
Scott Klososky is a partner in Future Point of View, LLC. He speaks and consults for organizations worldwide on technology and trends, and has written books on both technology-infused leadership and social technologies. You can connect with him at www.klososky.com.