Personal space is quickly filling up with work related activity. Many businesspeople carry their BlackBerry and laptop with them everywhere they go. I'll be the first to admit that I have responded to work emails in the comfort of my t-shirt and shorts on a Sunday and have made and replied to business calls outside of working hours. Many people would ask why. I guess the answer is "because I can." If you think about it, we, as business people, are trying to keep up and to stay in touch with customers wherever we are, mainly because we can.
That leads me into social networking. Have you ever taken a customer out to lunch or maybe a round of golf? Were you then asked, "how is that making us money?" It is funny, because the answer is almost always "well, it was good interaction." Somewhere down the line, a lunch or round of golf has eventually led to something bigger and better. An idea was shared or a business tip was passed along. When you are out of the office and in a more casual environment it allows us to be a little more conversational and inquisitive, often leading to key ideas and solutions. The sit down lunch and $200 round of golf is slowly being connected with blogs and Twitter posts, along with Facebook, MySpace and other Web 2.0 technologies.
Sharing information has never been so easy. I can chat with my friends on Facebook, post a new blog and enter a response to a forum question all from my phone in about 10 minutes. What does this mean for the small business? The answer is possibilities. The more avenues your customers have to interact with you, the better. Making it easy for potential clients to ask you questions or see your capabilities is a key strategy for gaining new prospects and holding on to past customers.
We as manufacturers are facing some very unforgiving times and it is forcing us to originate new ideas and strategies for gaining new business and securing customer retention. We have to generate new ways of developing products and highlighting our services offered. Social networking is rapidly becoming a great way to do this under a very tight budget. Manufacturing personnel should be interested in social networking because it is a great way to interact and connect with customers. It is a business tool that has proven results and the best part..... no green fees.