Social Media Tip for Business: Treat Facebook like an Online Rolodex

I received an email last week from a gentleman seeking advice on escaping the worker-bee lifestyle that is traditional gainful employment to pursue a more fulfilling career path.

I wrote a short response and encouraged him to friend me up on any of the social media accounts linked in my email.  His remark was one I’ve heard all too many times:

“I have been resistant to the social media sites (which I know needs to change) but I have a minimal presence on Linked-In so I can connect there.”

I don’t want to be too hard on my new friend, as this is a very common attitude amongst people who on the surface see no legitimate reason to spend a bunch of time connecting with strangers.  I understand the mindset 100% – as many people who know me will gladly point out my stubborn unwillingness to conform to the activities of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and the like.  But, I eventually realized that the ROI for time spent online is not always quantifiable in the traditional ways of thinking.

If you are finding yourself questioning the need to participate in Social Media, consider looking at it from a different perspective.  The next time you’re at a party, or a networking event, or even simply in a social setting where you know less than half the people there (like a wedding reception), think of how many people you’d remember if 1/3 of the people you didn’t know handed you a business card.  Would you remember who gave you what?  Maybe, but if you’re like me, chances are the conversations will begin to run together and putting a face to a business card you find in your shirt pocket on laundry day will be about as likely as Kate Gosselin remembering all of her kids’ names at first glance.

And that’s where Facebook comes in.  Think of Facebook as a Rolodex on steroids.

Rolodexes – remember them silly little things?  They are filled with neat little 2″x3″ notecards (3″x4″ if you had the deluxe model) for you to write anything and everything you could cram onto that tiny white canvas about your contact – and they were even tabbed alphabetically!  What could possibly be better?

Well, 30 years ago the answer to that question is probably nothing.  But times have changed.  Remember those business cards you collected at that meeting?  With Facebook, you can look them up and become their friend, whether they are a business or an individual – and learn all about them.  Instead of a stale notecard in a Rolodex, you get a whole bunch of information about their work, their family, their interests, hobbies – all kinds of stuff that you can use to connect with them on a personal level.  Furthermore, you can also follow the people that they already connect with and meet those with similar interests and/or needs.

And not only will you learn all about them, they’ll learn all about you. Furthermore, they’re going to remember that you were the one out of all the people they handed business cards to that night to follow up.

I know what you’re thinking, that this sounds all well and good, but isn’t it more than a tad presumptuous to assume that someone wants to be your friend after one meeting?  While this might be closer to reality in social circles, it’s different online.  On the Internet, people are on there to make connections.  While it’s true that there are some that only friend up people they know in real life, the majority of people will be happy to make a new friend.  I know I always am.  I’ve met a ton of cool people through Facebook and Twitter that I’d never have had the chance to encounter otherwise.

In fact, if you enjoyed reading this or any of my other work, why not take a second and friend me up.

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