Tap Social Networks for Business; Coaches Teach Business Leaders How to Utilize Facebook, Twitter, Others

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

When Joe Whitaker, targeted industries coordinator for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, started getting e-mailed invitations from people to join their social networks on the Linkedin Web site, he didn't know what to do.

"I was nervous about this stuff," the 62-year-old said. "My issue was privacy. I didn't want anybody getting information from me without me knowing it."

So he sought out someone who could explain to him exactly what social networking Web sites like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others had to offer businesses. Now, thanks to marketing consultant and business coach Angela Dunn, he's entering the brave new world to help him in his mission to recruit companies to the Jacksonville area that will offer good jobs and salaries to area residents.

"I wanted to get up to speed," he said. "I can't say I'm hooked, but I'm interested in learning more."

Dunn is hooked. She uses social networking sites and their capabilities - dubbed by some as "Web 2.0" - to build up her own contacts. She writes blogs and then Twitters them. And when people follow her "tweets," she opens up an online conversation.

And through her consultancy and blog, Brevity, she tirelessly evangelizes how those online applications can revolutionize everything businesspeople thought they knew about customer feedback and service, research and networking. She specializes in working with people like Whitaker, who know social networking can somehow help their businesses but don't understand it well enough to know how.

"I can cut that learning curve down and alleviate their fears," she said.

Dunn is one of many people in today's marketing world who are happy early adopters of social networking for their businesses. And she says it's much more than twenty-somethings talking about their favorite bands and what they had for lunch - it's the next step for business, particularly cash-strapped small businesses without any budget allowances for advertising and other promotion. …