By R. Pamela Alexander
As business owners, we all know that every event we attend is an opportunity to network, to meet new contacts and to build business relationships. We also know that in order to turn contacts into clients and to cultivate relationships we must follow up. And to follow up we must have what? Contact information. And what is the best way to obtain contact information while networking? Business cards, right?
Let’s save the pros and cons of sharing one of those little 2” x 3.5” cards rather than using smart phones and other technology tools for another time. Regardless of how you collect the contact information, the point is that you must ask for their information. Now for one of my pet peeves…have you ever asked someone for their business card or contact information and the reply was, “You can Google me.” Seriously!?
Please tell me that you did not just advertise for Google instead of yourself or your business. If you have ever used those four words, without also sharing your business card or contact information in some tangible manner, I implore you to stop it. Stop it right now!
You want to make it as easy as possible for a new contact to connect with you. Don’t expect that after networking and making several new contacts that they will remember your name or business and how to spell it correctly. Give them your card and then share that they can google you to learn more and find you on their favorite social network.
But what will they find if they do google you? Here are a few steps that you can take to make it easier to be found on Google:
- Refresh your website. If your website is older than five years, it’s probably time for a redesign. Styles have changed, technology has changed, and your website needs to change as well. Not only should you revisit your site’s design, you should also ensure that it is optimized for the search engines and for mobile.
- Add a blog to your website. Google is not a fan of old content and blogs are one of the best ways to keep fresh content on your site, resulting in better SEO. Use your blog posts, social networks, and email marketing campaigns to drive traffic back to your website, which should be the main hub for all your online properties.
- Set up your email address using your domain name. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why entrepreneurs insist on advertising for Yahoo, AOL, etc. One of the first things that screams credibility is an email address with your business domain name. If I know your email address, I can find out more about your business by typing in the URL (web address) that appears behind the @ in your email. Wait, did you just send me to Gmail?
- Purchase the .com for your name, if it is not already taken. Even if you are not building a professional brand based on your name, redirect it to your LinkedIn profile or other online profile, or company website to associate your name with the domain.
If you are building a personal brand and your name has already been purchased, you have to get creative. Consider your initials or a moniker. When I first started building my personal brand, my maiden name was taken by a realtor, so I added my first initial and dropped the last name and purchased www.rpamela.com. Even after getting married, getting found based on my new last name was minimal. Here’s a tip ladies, use both your maiden name and married name online for a year.
- Match all of your social media handles. Sometimes this can be a challenge so you want to think through this and check all of the social sites you intend to use to make sure that the name you will use is available across all social networks. Try to keep the variation to a minimum.
- Obtain and know the custom URL for your social networks. For example, until you claim your custom URL in LinkedIn, the link to your profile will look something like this: www.linkedin.com/in/your-name-63593959. Instead you want it to be https://www.linkedin.com/in/yourname, or http://www.linkedin.com/in/companyname.
Avoid adding numbers to your URL. Believe me, they only mean something to you and others will not remember them. This goes for your Facebook personal and business pages as well.
- Set up your YouTube channel. The #1 search engine owns the #2 search engine. To optimize your videos, spend quality time on your titles, descriptions, and tags. Even the name of the file you upload can give you an edge when you use keywords.
- The least expected way to ensure that your company is reachable by contacts online is to make sure that all of your contact information (name, email, phone, and web address) is prominent on your…business card!
R. Pamela Alexander is a technology strategist, trainer, speaker, author and the Executive Producer of BizLynks TV Network, online platform offering business internet TV shows featuring dynamic programming designed to inform and educate entrepreneurs, small businesses, associations and non-profits. In keeping with her tagline, Linking Technology to Business Growth, Pamela’s mission is to help businesses increase their exposure, productivity and sales through the effective use of technology. She also owns the independent publishing company Bytesize Books, LLC and is the author of God Is In Your Inbox.