Thursday, October 07, 2010
Back in the day, networking was the physical process of meeting with and using your friends and associates to meet more friends and associates in order to find the means to further your business or personal goals.
Send to a Colleague
Today, your networks may be full of people you have actually never met in person. LinkedIn and Facebook are just two of the sites that have grown in business usage and with them, the ability to connect with or create whole communities and tribes of like-minded folks.
That is not to say that face-to-face real-time communication is as dead as a dodo or that networks created through the more arduous one-at-a-time method are any less strong or effective than those garnered through cybernetic reach. In fact, there are times when the personal touch rules. When you want to create trust and credibility, the handshake and the ability to look someone right in the eye is irreplaceable.
There is no doubt that it is easier to send out a quick note on LinkedIn about your latest publication or product, than to take the time to personally meet with people who may or may not become customers or clients. This is particularly true if you feel you don’t have strong interpersonal skills, are shy, or just don’t have the time. However, in building a business, on- and off-line efforts are essential.
The key, on all levels, is reciprocity. Networks work when there is value on both sides of the table. Successful personal networkers will tell you that their most effective tool is remembering the wants and needs of people with whom they interact at networking functions. They follow up by sending out referrals, news articles, web links and contact information that leaves a pleasant impression and may bear future fruit. Similarly, in developing online communities, the most loyal ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ are those to whom you provide something that is of value, whether it is a link, a laugh or some new learning.
Networking, on- or off-line, is about giving before receiving. Stay tuned for more on networking in an upcoming blog.