by Shawn Fitzgerald, Guest Blogger, @sfitgerald9
When we think about starting and maintaining business relationships through Social Media, our universal knee jerk reaction is of course LinkedIn. No argument here. The ability to connect, share information, and research individuals is unparalleled.
However, the only way to maintain a continuous dialogue is to focus completely on business and deliver informative content and info that your connections might be interested in learning. If you want to have a meaningful prolonged conversation, you need to take it offline or set a formal meeting.
The popular scrabble style Zynga game “Words with Friends” has over 15.1 million users per month. The average game holds your interest for a longer duration that the average LinkedIn interaction. This is typically happening during downtime, so a relationship is being built very casually. Where traditional interactions can be reduced to a passing “hello”, social gaming allows a prolonged connection that generates talking points (“I can’t believe you pulled off a 175 point word to win!”), opportunities to display intellectual dexterity, and a built in “next meeting” opportunity.
My wife has been actively playing “Words with Friends” for the past 2 years with her old boss. She’s been a stay at home Mom during this time, but yearns to head back to the working world once the kids are in school. Through these games she has maintained a relationship, kept a potential employer updated on her desire to work, and negotiated the potential to work from home exclusively. Would her contact have been open to equally frequent phone calls or cups of coffee? Not likely. This non-intrusive approach allowed a continual nurturing of the relationship and kept the door open for future opportunity.
- Find out what they like: During a discussion with a new contact that you would like to develop into a professional relationship, ask what their favorite apps are. Be it Chess, Words with Friends, Poker, or DrawSomething, let them know that you are always looking for new opponents. Most players will be happy to hand out their game handle to start a new thread.
- Be Competitive: Don’t play if you can’t keep up. If the contact continuously hands you your hat game after game, they won’t want to continue the rematches. Practice before you ask!
- Chat! Chat! Chat!: Most social gaming platforms have built in messaging for “smack talk”. This can be leveraged for equally useful questions about business, new opportunities, or changes in your niche. Take advantage of the feature slowly. Don’t pepper your new contact with questions immediately. Allow the relationship to grow and sprinkle it in over time. You’ll be surprised at how open people can be in a non-business setting.
- This is Business: While you might draw something risqué or play an off color word with friends, this is not the place. Keep it professional at all times.
Hopefully this technique will provide you with yet another new approach to growing your business and personal reach. Time to stop learning and start playing!