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A Partner Lesson on the Value of a Strong Social Presence

Billed as the northeast's largest business trade show, the New York Business Expo (NYXPO), held last week in New York City, attracted 8,826 business owners, executives and entrepreneurs. Landing an invitation to lead a session at such an event is a coveted engagement for any business owner. For one Microsoft partner, attendance-driving clout through a loyal social community earns him a regular place in front of big audiences.

Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, is in the enviable position of being able to choose speaking venues that will reach broad audiences like the NYXPO. He attributes the success to the social community that his 39-person IT services company has built. "Because eMazzanti has a lot of followers, I get these speaking opportunities," Mazzanti explained. "When we send a message out about an event, people sign up."

Of course, building that social following is the hard part. Mazzanti sees that being especially hard for technology companies. "Computer people don't like to talk about what they do. They don't like to toot their own horn," Mazzanti said. "My firm is susceptible to that same behavior." 

But build it, the company has. eMazzanti's Facebook page has 5,683 likes. It has 1,414 followers on its LinkedIn page and 2,079 on Spiceworks. "It's a slow, arduous process to build your reputation," Mazzanti admitted. "Each follower is a person who has had a good experience with you. But once it starts to happen, it builds. Millennials care a lot about your 'crew' -- those people who follow you becomes an important component in selecting your organization."

"Every firm has raving fans. The dollars spent by customers are votes. You just need them to take it the extra step and do something publicly," Mazzanti added. "A follow or a post is your customer's way of saying thank you."

For eMazzanti, Hurricane Sandy in 2013 was a pivotal social moment. "We worked very hard to get our customers up and running within 24 hours, and we got a lot of posts thanking us," Mazzanti said. "We genuinely tried to help out the region, that's our culture, and we got raving fans as a result."

One of the lessons that eMazzanti has learned is that social networks are not static. "You have to be where your customers engage. In our public venues, LinkedIn has taken off, Facebook has dropped off and Spiceworks has been a rocket ship this year," Mazzanti said. "Spiceworks is a community of givers."

Building on the Presentation Opportunity
At NYXPO, several hundred attended Mazzanti's "Your All-Access Pass to the Industry's Most Stylish and Sophisticated Technology Yet" session. Mazzanti focused his message on how small and midsize businesses can use enterprise-class systems for a small amount of money. Mazzanti spent a third of the time explaining the latest technology, a third interpreting what that technology means to a smaller business and ended with how to get started. Mazzanti tries to deliver something for everyone in the audience, from those with no idea how to get started to those who have done extensive research.

To capitalize on any speaking engagement, eMazzanti also exhibits at the event. At NYXPO, the eMazzanti team scanned over 1,000 badges at its booth and will spend the next weeks following up. Leads are prioritized and split up among the sales team, with Mazzanti personally following up with top prospects.  

While Mazzanti is quick to give the credit for his success to his customers and staff, it's clear that he takes a hands-on approach. The monthly eMazzanti newsletter is sent from Mazzanti's direct e-mail. A client can hit reply and connect directly with the CEO -- a personal connection point that more business leaders should try. 

As eMazzanti has found, a strong social presence makes a statement that you have a voice that is valued by your community. When you build a following of raving fans, they can do far more than just provide "likes." Your social community validates that there is an audience for your message -- which can open some pretty big doors.

How do you capitalize on your social community? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 05, 2014