Thousands of ordinary folks are a little better known and successful today thanks to the extraordinary networking talents of one woman.
Meet the Pied Piper of the online world, Mari Smith, a veritable engine of personal branding and a relationship marketing whiz.
Not simply a land-based networker, Smith wields her magic on one of the largest platforms in the world, Facebook, home to 69 million active users and 250,000 new members joining every day. She’s also an active user of Twitter.
An evangelist for the powers of Facebook, Smith teaches a free introductory class about using Facebook for professional networking and business building. To date, more than 700 folks have taken her class. She also blogs about Facebook.
And, today is the official launch of her signature course, Facebook for Professionals: How to Use the #1 Social Network to Strategically Grow Your Business - A complete Multimedia System that includes a comprehensive ebook, how-to videos and interviews with some 30 successful Facebook members including popular web strategist and Sr Analyst at Forrester Research, Jeremiah Owyang, and creator of the Book Yourself Solid System, Michael Port.
For Smith, who is 41, Facebook is a personal branding megaphone, allowing you to broadcast your personal brand around the world by commenting on "friends’" walls, adding photos, sending personal messages, joining groups, pushing out blog feeds and providing frequent status updates.
"Far more than an online resume, Facebook shines a spotlight on you while radiating your work and life to hundreds of others who in turn introduce it to hundreds more — and suddenly you have all these interwoven connections," says Smith.
"Facebook provides the opportunity for me to talk to people at a higher level than I did before in such a wide range of industries, including seven-figure internet marketers, copywriters, authors, and speakers. One multi-millionaire internet marketer told me pointblank that if I’d tried to reach him any other way, we would not be having the conversation. All his calls and emails are filtered through several assistants."
It’s also opened the door for her to connect with some of her favorite actors and musicians. Smith counts the actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a friend, along with Paul B. Allen III, the original lead singer of The Four Tops.
Smith’s Facebook activity has not only paid off in visibility but on the bottom line. Since she began using Facebook last July, she says her hourly consulting rate has increased by 50% and she anticipates that her 2008 revenues will be three times those of last year.
Don’t for a minute, however think that she’s chained to a desk, keyboard and office. An admirer of Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Workweek, she and her husband, Ty, in July 2007 sold their California home, bought an RV and took to the open road. They haven’t looked back. She and Ty blog about their roadie life at befreegomobile.com. Smith dedicates three days a week for work and the rest of the time for travel. A night owl, she also catches up on work in the wee hours. Ty, a real estate investor, carves out a similar work-travel schedule.
"I’m blessed to be living my dream," says Smith. "A friend says ‘I’m an overnight success 10 years in the making.’ It has taken a lot of work behind the scenes to put me where I am today."
Smith offers this advice for those of us seeking to build a personal brand online:
• Register for a Facebook account and set up your personal Profile and business Page.
• Populate your Profile and Page with instructive information about you and your business.
• Join and actively participate in Groups that interest you.
• Strategically and regularly renew your Status Update.
• Share useful links related to your industry using the Posted Items application.
• Comment on your friends’ Walls, Notes , Posted Items, Photos and Videos.
• Write informational Notes and tag key Facebook friends.
• Write a blog and import your feed using Notes and/or one of the third party blog applications.
• And, most importantly, seek to build relationships by being your authentic self and by seeking to add value and uplift people’s spirits with no "agenda." People will remember you and want to connect with you.