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B2B Marketing and lead generation via Social networking

Have you dipped your toe in the water of social networking yet? And if not, should you start? That’s a question I know a lot of very busy B2B marketers ask themselves which is why I found Tessa Wegert’s ClickZ article on “Facebook as a B2B Marketing Tool” interesting.

In the article, Wegert highlights how some marketers are experimenting with using the Facebook site for proactive marketing and build targeted niche networks and B2B communities.

I’ve been using LinkedIn for several years because it’s geared more for business people. But I’ve heard the audience demographic of the Facebook is now moving from being focused on college kids to becoming a place for adults.

Overall, social networking sites are proving to be great tools for job seekers and recruiting. But I still wonder about the value of social networking tools for lead generation and business development that Wegert’s article brings up.

In B2B, I think our reputation matters as much as our brand. Like traditional networks, online social networks must be built on trust and value to be effective. In either case, you can’t replace credibility lost, if you fail to use them correctly.

I have a few hundred people in my online social network and more in my off line network. But I’ve found it takes just as much effort to use social networking tools to nurture relationships online as it does to nurture relationships off line. So in the end, I end up connecting more with my network offline or using old standbys like the phone or email.

Here’s my question…

If you use social networking tools, I’d love to get your input. Do you think a typical marketer or sales person (who isn’t a good “networker” already) can build relationships and generate sales leads for their company from a social networking tool? Why or why not?

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