Social media can be like doing business in a small town

Franklin StreetPeople prefer to do business with people they know and trust. No advertising that you could do for your company is going to be worth more than having someone recommend you to a friend. The more people in your social network, whether in person or online, the better for your business.

The irony of social networks is the technology that allows us to access millions of people all over the planet can actually make the world seem like a smaller, more neighborly place.


Starting my work day with a quick tour of my online social networks puts me in mind of my father strolling down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, where he has lived since college fifty years or so ago. For many years, he was in the habit of taking a mid-morning break from his architectural practice and walking a block to the drugstore to meet a friend for coffee at the counter in back.

In that single block, he was apt to run into any number of people he knows. To some, he would merely nod his head and keep walking. For others, he’d stop for a handshake, a brief chat, a bit of news about someone or other they both know.


Social media allows me to have a similar experience, even though I live in a major city that sprawls for miles. For instance, Facebook is an easy place to bump into old friends and keep up with new ones. I love those little postage stamp-sized glimpses of their lives, like knowing that my old high school friend spent last evening having a good workout, a soak in the hot tub and a glass of wine. Or that another friend’s daughter just lost her first tooth. I get to see a few pictures of a friend kayaking last weekend, or of a former employee’s new fiancé. It’s a fine place to take a morning stroll, smiling and nodding or stopping to share a joke or some gossip.


A great deal of building a business is about building relationships. You might want to think of social networks like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn as your small town main street, where you can bump into neighbors and connect with friends.


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