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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Work that net:
The ABCs of online social networking

News

Industry Update

AmEx green with Web access

UIGEA, WTO rules at odds

Alternative currencies - better with plastic?

In the OTA we trust

Slaying the breach elephant

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Complexities, solutions for prepaid fraud

Key players in Health Care 2.0

Unity and beyond

Views

Social networking's impact on payments

Patti Murphy
The Takoma Group

A bigger bite for Visa, MasterCard

Ken Musante
Humboldt Merchant Services

Go remote: Boost security and profits

Stuart Taylor
Hypercom Corp.

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Blog on, link in, tweet out

Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang
888QuikRate.com

Marketing with social networks

Vicki M. Daughdrill
Small Business Resources LLC

Much ado about Twitter

Nancy Drexler
SignaPay Ltd.

Summiting the social networks

Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

Payments and social networking:
A legal perspective

Adam Atlas
Attorney at Law

Level 4: The small-merchant PCI challenge

Joan Herbig
ControlScan

Company Profile

Global eTelecom Inc.

New Products

A new skimming antidote

Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution
ADT Security Services Inc.

Gift card network at your service

SparkBase 3.0
SparkBase

Inspiration

Lifelong learning: A business strategy

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 27, 2009  •  Issue 09:04:02

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Summiting the social networks

By Dale S. Laszig

Building a social network can be a lot like climbing a mountain. To be successful, it's advisable to have a plan, some good gear, a competent ground crew and an experienced guide who can show you the ropes.

Getting to the top may mean different things to different people. For example, some merchant level salespeople envision large merchant portfolios with global or national footprints; others would prefer to become known as trusted resources within their communities.

No matter how you define success, online social networking can help you establish an Internet presence, connect with other industry professionals, and make you accessible to a wider market in need of your services and expertise.

The plan

Begin by figuring out what you want to achieve from social networking in order to focus on the activities that will bring the best results.

Are you looking for employment or consulting opportunities? Post an announcement on a network site, and use the job search feature. Request an introduction from your connections to arrange a confidential interview.

Would you like to review the profiles of potential employees? Prescreen your candidates with customized search tools with background, industry, company and geography filters.

Is your primary objective to promote your products and services, or position yourself as an industry specialist? Consider a micro-advertising campaign, in which you pay per click on each qualified respondent.

The more clarity you bring to your networking activities, the more worthwhile you will find the overall experience.

The gear

What would you most like people to know about you and your business?

If you've ever worked on a mission statement or elevator speech, you know how much effort and attention to detail it takes to produce a 30-second sound bite on who you are and what you do. You need the same kind of discipline and focus to create an effective profile.

Take your time, and run it by a few friends before you post it. A good profile, like a good resume, is concise and bullet pointed. It can be scanned as well as read. Make sure you write it with your particular target audience in mind.

Other network gear essentials include a high-quality recent photo, some links to your Web site or blog, and a podcast or PowerPoint presentation that provides more details about your products and services.

The crew

In addition to the wealth of available resources on social networking sites, there are knowledgeable professionals behind the technology who manage content, keep the pages fresh and interesting, and can answer questions on the features and functionality of their sites.

I have occasionally sent e-mails to the staff at LinkedIn and have found them to be responsive and thoughtful, always asking what else they can do to enhance my networking experience.

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have search engines, links, advertising, discussion boards, common-interest groups, and celebrity interviews that offer new ways to exchange ideas and information, as well as meet like-minded professionals.

The experienced guide

If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the options, or by the amount of time it takes to create and manage an array of profiles on select social network sites, you may want to consider outsourcing.

Like experienced guides who know their way around a mountain, consultants who specialize in social networking can help optimize your profile and deliver the right message to your audience. There are numerous ways in which these specialists can help you leverage the power and global scale of social networks. They can:

The savvy agent

Networking consultants facilitate the organic growth of your trusted network of friends and industry associates who will in turn introduce you to other trusted friends and associates.

The more consultants know about your business, the more they can fine-tune the search engines and prescreen prospective candidates and business partners, ensuring quality as well as quantity in your expanding network of friends, colleagues and business partners.

How often do we need to remind our customers to leave the bankcard processing to us so they can focus on their core businesses? If you find you are "twittering away" your time at the office, maybe it's time to call a social networking specialist so you can go back to what you do best: reaching the pinnacle of success with your own network of satisfied merchant customers.

Dale S. Laszig is a writer and payments industry executive with a diversified background in sales and marketing. Her company, DSL Direct LLC, helps industry professionals and business owners leverage electronic transaction technology. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or dale@dsldirectllc.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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