Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Online Networking - If You Build It, Will They Come?

I’ve been talking to people this week about their experiences with online networking. The most common misperception I’ve run into is “if you build it, they will come”. It’s not as simple as just putting up a profile and hoping that people will automatically be drawn to it.

The other fallacy is the your can use online tools to build your network. You may be able to use these sites to enhance your network but not as a starting point.

Online networking requires just as much effort as in person networking. If you go to a networking event and stand alone in a corner all evening, you’re not going to get anything out of the event. If you go to an online networking site and do nothing to promote yourself, you’ll be equally unsuccessful.

I’ve taken the first step and tried out several networking sites. There are lots of them out there but if all I do is just go and sign up for lots of different sites, I won’t really have much to share when we do get together. So, over the next few weeks, my focus will be on trying to get the most out of the sites where I do have a presence. I’ll be sharing what I learn along the way.

I’d really like to learn from you. Please share your experiences with all of us. How have you used online networking tools? What’s worked for you?


Sabine Pyrchalla said...

Hello Joyce,

I agree with you as far as "just building a profile will not get your anything". However I do believe it's not the promoting of yourself that will let you benefit from social networking sites - it's the participating and offering helpful ideas, comments and tips. People do not want to listen to sales pitches - not matter how disguised they are. They would like to engage in conversations, learn, share, ask...

Just my two cents.

Gary Ralston said...

I'd add two points for thought, through LinkedIn, where Joyce is in my immediate network:

1) Don't mistake activity for results.

I have seen people work up a network of 200 people on LinkedIn, then do next-to-nothing with it. Here's a question: why are you networking? Given your goal, is networking the way to reach it?

2) Play to your strengths.

In Gladwell's highly (over?) quoted book, 'The Tipping Point', he describes Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. Networking comes naturally to Connectors, but not so to Mavens. See a miserable person at a networking event? It's likely a Maven without a means of introduction.

Fortunately, LinkedIn offers a way for Mavens to make themselves useful, visible and credible all at once - the 'Answers' Tab.

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Gary Ralston said...

one more thing...

For anyone not blessed with Joyce's delightful extrovert streak, networking, whether in-person or virtual, can be really tough.

I found the book: 'The World's Best Known Marketing Secret', by Misner and Devine, very helpful.

From it, I learned how to gracefully disengage so I didn't only meet one person per event, and how to take the role of 'mini-host' for those even less-at-ease than I!