If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 100 times: “people in manufacturing don’t use social media.” Oh REALLY?
Now I will submit that a lot of people in manufacturing don’t, but those are likely the same people you as a business professional aren’t trying to reach anyway. You need to talk to decision makers. Coincidentally, those ARE the same type of manufacturing folks who do use it. Let me give you some examples.

In my 3 minute LinkedIn search I found:

• 12 people with the word “President” in their title (this includes Vice Presidents) at the company Eagle Ottawa.
• 86 people with the word “President” in their title at the company Lear
• 52 at TRW
• 12 at Borg Warner
• 1047 at Ford
• 340 at Toyota

That’s a lot of top dogs. These aren’t line workers. These are folks that head up departments like Human Resources, Finance and Supply Chain…some of them do so this on a global level.

You should be asking yourself 3 questions right now:

1. How the heck is Terry connected to so many of these folks?
2. What can I do to be that well connected?
3. How would I leverage it if I were?

Fortunately for you I’m going to answer all three of those questions in this top 12 list:

1. Grow your network. These tools work best when the quality of your connections work in harmony with the quantity of your connections. Don’t worry so much about only connecting with people you know in real life. It doesn’t serve you.

2. This should actually be 1, but I never claimed these were in order: Update your profile. Fill it out completely. List your past jobs. List where you went to college. LinkedIn will suggest people you know based on this. When filling out the summary, summarize your life, not your current position. There is a space for that under your current position. Be sure to include interests and specialties…they make you relatable and help build common ground.

3. Upload your email address book to LinkedIn (While you can do this on Twitter, Facebook and Google + I am not advocating that here. I have found LinkedIn to be bullet proof, I have not found that with the others). Uploading your address book will allow you to see people you already communicate with who are also using the tool.

4. Invite them to your network. Don’t wait. Do it now.

5. Go through their contacts and see who else you know so you can get connected with them too. Invite them to join your network.

6. As you’re checking out their profiles to see their contacts, make notes of what groups they have joined. If those groups are relevant to you/your business, join them. They are full of people just like your contact.

7. As a member of a group it’s important to comment on posts and even more important to create your own content. This is how people in the group will get to know you. Focus on posts that will position you as an expert and someone they would like to get to know.

8. Learn how to use the “search” function. Without it you won’t be able to find who you seek.

9. Understand who your target market and target business partners are. If you can’t answer this, the time you spend searching will be wasted.

10. Create status updates that add value to both you AND your network. Share links to articles that are interesting. Pontificate on big ideas about your industry. Tell your network specifically how they can help (ie. Who you are looking to meet). Mix it up. Make sure you include info that helps them AND info that helps you.

11. Don’t worry about using the tool to reach the people you need to contact. The truth is not everyone on LinkedIn is on there all that often. Sometimes it’s best to just grab the contact’s name and make the phone call. LinkedIn is a valuable research tool that will help you get past just about any gatekeeper.

12. Set aside time for this. It’s not going to happen if you don’t. I promise it doesn’t take of itself. Don’t say you’ll do it “later”. I have checked your calendar and there is no timeslot label “later”. Budget an hour to fill out your profile properly. Then plan on spending up to 30 minutes at a time two times a week to do the rest. I promise it will be time well spent.

This post focused on one aspect of how to use these tools. You can also be using social media for hiring, customer service, employee retention, branding and more. If you’re interested in more advice on how use social media and relationship marketing to grow your business I suggest you Try Bean by going to http://trybean.com