Let me tell you about a recent experience I had that made me reflect on how small the world is on the Web. A few days ago, a small artisan company contacted me by writing the following: I would be pleased to meet you and possibly start a collaboration for generating exports. I discovered that the company is located in my city (Schio) and so the next day I went to see them. They make a product that is mostly handmade but they dedicate little time to the commercial-marketing side; they already export – but not enough. This is exactly my job, and it seems to me that we hit it off immediately. Before saying goodbye, I ask how they found me. I imagined an answer like: I heard about you from a fellow entrepreneur (in the province of Vicenza I have collaborated with more than 60 companies), or: I saw that you wrote a book on the subject of exporting (Exporting in 7 Steps). Instead the answer was: I found you on Xing… Did I hear that right?!
For those who don’t know, Xing is a professional social network (like LinkedIn) created in Hamburg and aimed primarily at German-speaking operators and businesses. In other words: an artisan company from my city – a company that is located 6.7 km from my office – found me on a German social network!
Years ago, I created a profile on this network because Germany is one of the primary markets in which I work. The aim was to identify potential agents or distributors on behalf of the companies with which I collaborate but I never thought that this presence would give me the visibility to help me meet a small business in my city. I think we can say that it is a small world on the web!
- In the Digital 2019 study, it is estimated that the global daily average spent on the web is 6 hours and 4 minutes (Italy is slightly below this average). We certainly spend more time in the virtual piazzas of the web than in the piazzas of our cities (we used to go out to buy the newspaper; today there are no more newsstands).
- It is important that this presence be cultivated; that is, that we stand out. On Xing (as well as on LinkedIn) I write an article once a month. As my friend and colleague Giorgio Venturini says, LinkedIn (and social networks in general) are useful not only for finding contacts, but also for being found. But to be found it is necessary to have an online presence made of content – intelligent content, if possible.
- Since these activities require skills and time, a small business has to make choices. Once we have decided in which markets we want to sell, we must then consequently choose which virtual piazzas to attend, investing time to get noticed.
On the topic “how to build an effective online reputation”, I would like to highlight an interesting conference with Riccardo Scandellari, in my city, on March 6th: Personal Branding. Today (Il Personal Branding. Oggi)
A training event for companies and professionals organized by Diskos, a specialization school for business communication in which I teach.