The Top 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage Employee Networks

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A small business’s employees have a huge impact on its ability to be successful. The better you are able to mange them as a resource for your business, the stronger it will become. Managing employees in the office or on location is one aspect of being an effective boss, yet increasingly, managing employees in a way that utilizes the other assets that they bring to the table can help a business grow stronger.

1) Add their workplace on LinkedIn. Your small business’s LinkedIn page is a great place to start tapping into your employee’s networks. Encouraging your employees to link their profiles to your company page will increase the amount of people who are able to find information on your company, as well as the paths that potential referrals can take to view your content.

2) Utilize Facebook as a soapbox for your messages. Your company page on Facebook is a great place to post content, as any customers who have liked your page will be able to easily keep tabs on your updates as they appear in their news feed. For particularly important updates, you can exponentially increase the audience that sees them by asking your employees to share the post to their networks. Depending on the amount of employees who re-post your content, you can potentially reach a much greater number of viewers without the need to promote your post for money.

3) Find talent through targeting hiring efforts. Another powerful way to utilize the social assets your workers bring to the table is by using their networks to streamline the hiring of new talent. Going to employees in the departments where you have open positions and encouraging them to reach out to their connections in their field can potentially speed up the time it takes for you to fill up the vacant spots on your team.

4) Create a stronger brand image. Giving your employees branded materials such as t shirts or hats that they can choose to wear while not on the job can increase awareness of your business within your community. The more people see that your business is a strong part of your employees identity, and the more your employees feel comfortable being representatives of your brand, the better you will be able to grow out networks of influence.

5) Get insight into markets. Market research is essential for every kind of business, and the more opinions gathered when conducting it, the stronger and more informative your results will be. This is why using your small business employees as magnifiers of your data gathering efforts is a smart move. Sharing links to surveys or suggestion boxes will have the double benefit of showing your customers that you value their feedback.

6) Unify your business’s digital presences. The more unified your business appears through social media, the better. Creating a professional impression can be accomplished through claiming and standardizing your business’s profile on a wide variety of social media and listing sites and including information about how your service or products are unique. Ask your employees what they think the strongest points of your business are. Since they are on the front lines of your customer service efforts, they will be in a unique position to know what you are doing well.

7) Extend the reach of your email marketing. In the same way that Facebook posts or tweets can be magnified by re-posts on the part of your employees, email marketing can be given a push as well. Unlike Facebook posts, emails need to be targeted much more specifically, so don’t ask your employees to send out promotional materials to everyone they know. The correct time to ask for a boost to an email is when promoting a positive PR initiative, such as a charity program or community event. An inbox is a personal place, so don’t stuff it with pure self promotion. Be selective about what you choose to promote through e-mail.

8) Gather testimonials. Does your business not have any recommendations behind it? Services like Yelp can either help or hinder a business depending on whether or not reviews exist for it. To the point of attracting some positive comments, promoting a family night or other event where your employees can bring their close acquaintances to try what your business has to offer can create the opportunity for good reviews. Treating these potential clients well can generate good feedback more easily, since given their relationships with your employees they already are more inclined to have good feelings towards your small business.

9) Develop new media assets. The communities that your employees have influence in are a resource for your marketing efforts in a passive as well as direct way. Passively, asking your employees what trends they notice when keeping up with their digital networks can give you an idea of what is trending and where you should focus your efforts in order to stay on the cutting edge within your industry.

10) Show appreciation for what you have. The most satisfying way to utilize your small business’s employee networks is to show your gratitude on a larger scale. Promoting the good work that your employees have done will add to the perceived competence of your business, increase the good feelings your employees have in the workplace and reduce turnover, and incentivize sharing on the part of your staff.

Photo Credit to US Dept. of Ed. on Flickr

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