I was at a conference in San Francisco on Social Media for Lawyers last month. Someone in the back of the room asked the panel members… “What is the ROI on social media?” Dan Goldman, General Counsel for Mayo Clinic gave a brilliant answer. “Let me ask you a question… What’s the ROI on your telephone? Social Media is simply a tool.”

I think Goldman got to the heart of the matter. Those of us who have embraced this thing called social media know how powerful this tool can be. Combined with the right strategy (for you) there could be a good even great return on investment. Here are 5 tips to think about when you are undertaking any social media endeavor.

Any business development initiative should start with a plan. Remember the initiative is not social media… that is a tool. You must have a strategy and part of that strategy should include:

1. Define your audience… If you try to speak to EVERYONE – NO One will listen.

2. Narrow your focus… this will help you become known for something.

3. Define your goals… Sure you want to get more clients, but first you have to build trust. Know what you are trying to accomplish. Is it to increase your credibility? Increase your visibility? Increase opportunities to forge relationships with new people?

4. How are you going to follow-up with the people you meet through this initiative?

5. What are you going to GIVE before you get?

These questions should be asked no matter what tool you use to develop business. For instance: networking at Bar Associations or entertaining clients in a SKYBOX during football season. You must have a strategy, follow-up and give before you get.

So you see why asking about the ROI on SOCIAL MEDIA, NETWORKING or a SKYBOX is absurd… it’s not the tool that matters!