“A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.” – Stephen Covey
“I found there was only one way to look thin: hang out with fat people.” – Rodney Dangerfield
Nothing is more important to social networking than networking – that process of finding and connecting with other people in a variety of ways. But therein lies one of the most challenging aspects of social media: how do you find and connect with and engage with other people in meaningful ways?
There are certainly lots of ways that mirror real-life networking. Friends can introduce you to other friends and people you should know through mentions and shares. You can join groups and meetings through communities and hangouts. And of course you can simply be awesome and watch as people rush to connect with you.
But those of us in business probably have to be a bit more proactive, and that means using tools to help and manage our activities. With Hootsuite, you can search for new connections and manage your existing connections so that you can more easily find and engage with the people that matter to you. We’ll run through some of the technical details of Contacts within Hootsuite, and then get back to talking about the bigger picture.
Open your Hootsuite dashboard and click on Contacts in the left sidebar. This opens the Contacts Dash with your Twitter account(s) listed in the left frame. Once a Twitter account is selected, your Twitter contacts will appear in the right frame. The available tabs are People Following Me and People I Follow.
For each contact, you’ll see their profile pic, name, Twitter handle, location, when they joined and roughly how often they tweet. Below that is displayed their most recent tweet.
To the right of each contact is a Follow/Unfollow toggle button that depends on your current relationship with that contact. Then is displayed how many people they’re following, how many followers they have, and their Klout score.
There’s also a drop down menu below each user’s profile picture that lets you follow, unfollow, block, report or list that contact.
The Contact Dash displays up to 100 contacts at a time, with pagination buttons to move forward or backward through your list. Both tabs of contacts are displayed in reverse chronological order, meaning the people you have follow you most recently, or those you have followed most recently, are displayed first.
You can click on any contact’s name to bring up the standard Hootsuite contact card displaying all of their information and recent activity.
Display By List
That’s nice, but once you start following hundreds of people, scrolling through a list of contacts isn’t very practical. That’s where your Twitter lists come in.
Once you’ve selected one of your Twitter accounts, you’ll see a drop down list below it that contains every Twitter List you’ve created. Select any list, and you’ll only see the people you’ve added to that list.
As I mentioned earlier, you can add contacts to a list using that drop down menu under their profile pic. You can also drag & drop contacts into any of your lists! Just click and drag their profile pic onto any of the lists you have in the left frame.
Google+ Contact Management
One of the hidden features within Hootsuite is the ability to manage your Google+ Page contacts! Under your Twitter profiles and lists, there’s a collapsed section for Google+. Click it to open and reveal any Google+ Pages you’ve connected to your Dashboard. Select one and you’ll immediately see all of your Circles that you’ve created. And in the right frame, just as with Twitter, you’ll see tabs for “People who have me in Circles” and “People in my Circles.”
To the right of each contact, you can manage what circles you have them in.
Click on any contact name to bring up a Hootsuite contact card. It won’t have quite the data that Hootsuite offers for Twitter connections, but you can read a contact’s About information and other Profile data, as well as their most recent posts. Posts appear just as they do within your Dashboard streams, which means you can view +1’s, Comments and Shares, but cannot yet interact with a specific post. To do that, just click on the timestamp on any post to open it in Google+ in a new tab.
You can add or delete circles or even edit circle names, all within the left frame interface. And you can drag & drop contacts from one circle into another circle just like with Twitter lists. Just click their profile pic and drop them onto whichever circle you want.
Depending on your needs, you may want to review some of the available add-on apps. If you’re looking for ways to integrate Hootsuite with other CRM systems like SalesForce or Nimble, or want to streamline the social sales process for your business, there are apps you can install to facilitate that.
And if you’re looking for ways to improve your Hootsuite use in general, check out “The Unofficial Book On HootSuite” available on Amazon.com now for just $9.99. The book will help you learn many tricks and best practices, and focuses on how businesses can use Hootsuite to make their social media activity more efficient and profitable.
Social Networking via Hootsuite
Now that you’re familiar with the Contacts functionality within your Hootsuite dashboard, let’s spend some time talking about what you can do with it.
Let’s start with how you can use Hootsuite to connect with other people. And not just anyone – these people should be people that you want to connect with. Perhaps they’re talking about topics that are of interest to you, or perhaps they represent someone that could be a really good connection for your business.
You can start with using a Search that will bring up tweets on a topic that you’re interested in. Depending on the word or phrase you use, you may find all kinds of interesting people talking about or asking about topics of interest to, questions you can answer, and so on. You can check out their Twitter profile and decide whether or not you’re interested in following them.
When you’re viewing someone else’s profile, you can take a look at their tweets as well as tweets in which they’re mentioned, to discover even more interesting people. Each time youc click on a profile, you can read their Bio, view their profile metrics, and even see their Klout score. You can also see whether you’re following that individual from any of your connected Twitter acounts, see whether they’re following you, and choose to follow or unfollow accordingly (relationship status). The same is true when viewing Google+ user profiles.
As you connect with more and more people, you can file them into specific Lists or Circles according to industry, geography, status, relationship, or whatever it is that makes them important to you.
You can then hop into Contacts and make sure that you’re seeing the latest updates from those important Lists and Circles!
Learn from your contacts, comment or reply to their posts, and share posts with your own followers.
In other words, engage with them. Be social.