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OK, so you already use some of the biggest social networking tools to vet potential new employees.  You might scan a Facebook page to see if this new college graduate is a good fit for the engineering position you have available; or you might take a peek into a secretarial candidate’s Twitter page to see what she’s tweeting about.  But are there any ways you expand your reliance?  And if there are, what are the downsides, if any?  We asked founder and renowned career coach A. Harrison Barnes for his insight.  Keep reading for his take on how social networking is both the cure all and the Achilles heel of your business.

“Social networking is perhaps the best marketing tool you have”, says the founder.  It’s an excellent way to get your name and logo out there and odds are, it’s not going to cost you anything.

One downfall is the possibility of disgruntled former employees or even the competition leaving negative comments.  One example of how your efforts can backfire is the current Deepwater Horizon  Response on Facebook.  “There is no shortage of upset Americans who are making their feelings known loud and clear”, said Barnes, in reference to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  BP is providing all of its updates on its Facebook page and that page is getting more hits than the traditional websites that have been set up since the explosion that killed eleven people and continues to spew millions of gallons of oil and fuel into the Gulf waters.  This, of course, is an extreme example, but many companies prefer to keep control over who posts what on their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts.  You have the option of approving any comments before they’re posted, which is one advantage you’ll likely want to incorporate.

Another reason for using social networking is that more of both your client and customer bases are already there, says A. Harrison Barnes.  And you can also be sure that your competition is building its following, too.  When your customers find you and add you to their own profiles, you’ve just opened the door to hundreds of new customers who will see you on the growing number of profiles of your followers.  Finally, linking your pages with your website will increase the visitors to your site and improve your search engine ranking.

Remember to keep your social networking pages fresh with the latest and most relevant information pertaining to your business, just like you do with your company’s blog.  Many businesses opt to bring on a new employee for the sole purpose of handling their virtual existence.  These employees write the blogs, upload the images on everything from the website to your Facebook page to responding to inquiries your sites receive.

Remember, the more you grow your customer base, the stronger your business becomes.    With that strength comes expansions, new employees and a continued bright future.

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