Yesterday our newsletter focused on tips to begin to build your community. I thought I’d repost a portion of it here.

The time in the early life of social media has come where people are beginning to question if it’s valuable. Many of our clients, friends, and peers have mentioned to us that they don’t see it working and are about to give up.

But wait! Don’t give up yet!

The one thing we see in common with those telling us social media doesn’t work is they haven’t yet built their community.  Community, you ask?  Why do I need a community?

What is the first thing you do when you go to a networking event? And don’t say get a drink…that’s assumed.  If you know someone, you walk up to that person and let them introduce you to the people with whom they’re talking, right?  You find something in common with those people and you engage in conversation. At some point during the conversation, you decide if these people are going to refer business to you (or vice versa), if you’re going to do business together, or if you are going to become friends.

The same philosophy works in social media. You are building your community in order to gain referral sources, prospect for new business, recruit talent, and find like-minded people who help your knowledge base and wisdom grow.

With direct precision you can find your target audiences, your competitors, or industry experts.  Following are some tools to begin to build your community, by finding the right people to follow.

* Twellow is a directory of public Twitter accounts, with hundreds of categories and search features to help you find people who matter to you. Once you register, you can update your profile and categories, add links to your other social media profiles, and create an extended bio. You can also search for people in your city, state, region, industry, or by job title.

* With MrTweet, you can discover people, enhance your existing relationships, and be discovered by other people who are naturally relevant to you.

* If your target audiences are business owners and leaders, then ExecTweets is the tool for you to use. It allows you to search by industry and follow people who are on Twitter that are good targets for you.

* WeFollow allows you to type in different tags that help you find people who are great targets for you. For instance, you can search by company, industry, title, or interest/hobbies.

* If you haven’t already, download a desktop application, such as TweetDeck, PeopleBrowsr, or Hootsuite. As you begin to follow people, you’ll create groups to keep track of them. Your groups may include competitors, industry reporters, employees, your referral network, clients/customers, vendors, and/0r industry organizations.

By using these tools, following 10-30  at a time (then, after they follow you back, follow another 10-30), and beginning to network, you’ll be building your community one day at a time.  Most people say to us, “But no one is paying attention to what I’m saying!” Then we go to their Twitter stream and see that everything they’re posting is all about them and there aren’t any conversations happening.

If you look at this less as a way to get the word out about the great things you’re doing (initially) and more as a way to network and find new relationships in order to meet your business goals, you’ll see the value of social media in a month or less. You’ll be building a community of friends who want to help spread the word about the great things you’re doing.

What have I missed that you would include for those wanting to build their online communities?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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