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Making Important Connections Through Social Media

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This past Saturday, I saw a link to a post by Alan Berkson with the headline, “What Business are You In,” Sure it’s an obvious question — but without really knowing the answer, you and your business may be in for a pounding.

Alan Berkson
You can find Alan Berkson on Twitter at @Berkson0

Berkson asks a lot of obvious questions, and he does so for a very good reason: Far too many people assume they know what they’re doing, when in fact there are very basic questions that have not been adequately answered, possibly not even asked.

It was Berkson who caused me to start looking more closely at some of the things I was doing with the communities I manage, including the Westchester Social Media Facebook commmunity. Berkson caused me to stop and think more often about who are the people in my target audience, what I’m trying to get them to do, and why I’m building the communtiy in the first place. He also caused me to consider that the passing of time frequently causes goals to change, so re-evaluations are necessary.

As a way to develop my own levels of expertise in areas of social media, digital marketing, communications and PR, I meet with thought leaders — like Berkson — as frequently as I can. In fact, I try to schedule at least one in-person meeting per week with someone who knows a bunch of stuff that I don’t.  If you don’t practice some version of networking or information sharing like this, I strongly recommend it. It works. You can follow Berkson on Twitter at @Berkson0.

Chris S. Cornell and Ric Dragon, author of Social Marketology
Chris S. Cornell and Ric Dragon, author of “Social Marketology,” stand in front of a white board at DragonSearch in Kingston, NY.

About a week and a-half ago, I read a book called Social Marketology, by Ric Dragon, and I couldn’t put it down. I found myself nodding my head up and down as I read — and thinking that I had to set up a meeting with this guy. I will be writing more about Social Marketology in the coming weeks, but I already gave my preliminary thoughts to the folks at Amazon.

After reading his book, I really wanted to exchange thoughts with Dragon, the CEO of a 20-person digital marketing firm located in Kingston, NY. Five or six years ago, I wouldn’t have even considered trying to schedule a meeting with an author I didn’t know — regardless of how good his book was. Today — thanks to Twitter — connections are what moves the conversation forward.  After a Twitter post aimed at @RicDragon and a couple of follow-up e-mails, I was able to schedule a meeting at DragonSearch for Labor Day.

Dragon Search is located on Disneyesque Wall Street in Kingston, NY.
Dragon Search is located on Disneyesque Wall Street in Kingston, NY.

Dragon Search’s spacious offices are located on the second floor of a building of Wall Street, the main drag in downtown Kingston — about 90 miles north of New York City. Combining the art and science of SEO and digital marketing & advertising, DragonSearch provides companies with the expertise necessary to help their markets connect with their brand, products and services.

Dragon invited me into the conference room, and cleaned off the white boards before we sat down on opposite sides of the conference room table. We talked about Social Marketology and many of the ideas he’d presented in it. I was particularly intrigued by his thoughts on social media’s “little unexpected payoffs” that help foster a sense of well-being in the minds of its participants. We talked about several other aspects of his book, and then, almost out of the blue, he asked “What is your dream?”

“What is my dream?” I repeated the question inside my head, and then muttered something about trying to help people communicate their stories through words and images.

“Come on — you should have that written down and carry it with you,” Dragon said, seeming almost stunned that I was unable to pull a neatly folded piece of paper containing my dream out of my back pocket.

His point was this: how can you pursue a dream if you haven’t really defined it? How many of us really know what we’re pursuing?

Dragon didn’t need a piece of paper to describe the components of his dream, first in general terms and then with the most specific details. I won’t divulge all, but with a plan like his, I’m betting most companies interested in digital marketing will have heard of DragonSearch within the next two years.

Ric asked me a bunch of questions, and he listened to my answers. He talked about the five-year-old DragonSearch, about some of his company’s bold plans, and then fielded a series of questions I had for him. He then proceeded to jump out of his chair and began scrawling on the white board. Without me actually having to ask for advice, he wrote down a list of suggestions based on the things I’d said, and the things he’d observed. It was obvious from our conversation — and the suggestions he made — that he had learned about some of my work prior to our meeting. His suggestions, which I will elaborate on in a future column, combined his keen sense of observation with incredible intuition.

The main reason I’m sharing this story is to make the point that social media, like most aspects of life, is nothing more than what you make of it. While some people spend their time complaining about their lack of leads, lack of connections, lack of knowledge, and so on — other people are out there making things happen. As you can imagine, Dragon falls into the latter category. He told me he gets approximately half of his business leads through his use of Twitter. Yes, the CEO of a 20-person company that has grown between 30 and 50% per year for its first five years of operation gets HALF of his business leads from Twitter.

He does this by listening, observing, creating opportunities, and following through with an action plan. It’s also obvious that he finds a way to add something of value to the conversation and give something back to the community he is helping to build. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to add someone like @RicDragon to your Twitter follower list.

Chris S. Cornell manages several online communities in Westchester County, NY and the Hudson Valley. He consults, speaks and writes on the subject of social media, content production, marketing and public relations. You can follow Chris on Twitter at Cornell140, and you can become a part of the Westchester Social Media community on Facebook.





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