Honestly, in my experience, I think the big mistake we make is relying a 100% on business networking [ whether online or otherwise ]. Business networking, in all or any of its forms should supplement our business activities – it should help us reach those people we would otherwise never have communicated with – not REPLACE business building and marketing efforts.
Registering on ALL the online business networking platforms is not the solution – just like one wouldn’t attend all Trade Association meetings and mixers and all the local networking meetings – similarly, signing up for all the online portals is a self-defeating activity.
What we should focus on is that one contact you have today – the one person you e-mail today, the one person who asks you a question today. Give your attention to that one person – it’s like one bird in the hand is better than ten in the bush = one person talking with you/interested in you is better than a 100 names on your contact list.
Make a connection – not just a contact, create a relationship. I don’t believe anyone can go wrong with that approach. It’s an investment and we must treat it as an investment – we don’t go investing pennies in a particular stock and a particular company’s equity right? We invest thousands and lakhs of rupees in that – THEN it re-pays us – apply the same principle to online business networking and you won’t go wrong. Instead of sending hundreds of similar e-mails to hundreds of people, send one well-thought out e-mail that is relevant to the person you are writing to.
Very good post on that topic. Networking platforms like OpenBC mislead many people to collect more and more and more contacts. But those people do not connect to that contacts, they only collect them. These contacts have no special value for their network. So what I suggest are online tools for the maintenance of our connections. OpenBC is weak in this field. Maybe LinkedIn is better, I don’t know.
A simple tool for maintaining contacts is email, of course. But sending emails to your contacts could be seen as spam, if it is to often. And it could be ineffective if it happens to rarely.
“those people do not connect” means, they connect once, and this online, but they never meet face to face, they never reconnect or keep the relation running.
Yes – many people tend to collect contacts – like I too did when I started out. It is true that our visibility will increase if we connect with lots of people, but what we don’t realise in our zeal to get connected is that it’s better to create one relationship at a time instead of just collecting e-mail id’s. This way, when we get introduced to someone via our existing contacts we will get a solid and confident referral, which will otherwise not be possible because no one really knows us!
As for contact management – I think it’s more an art – even if have applications that allow us to automate the e-mail sending to all our online contacts, we will still need to personalize those e-mails and pay personal attention to each person if we really want to create relationships. So whether it’s openBC or LinkedIn, it doesn’t really matter! We need to make an effort ourselves.
I think there are two kinds of people on online networking portals – those who want to get connected to everyone and those who sign up, don’t quite see the point of the whole thing and leave stagnant profiles on the system. We all go through phases when networking online and I believe that’s how we learn!
Thanks for stopping by Andreas!
so we could say, one target of “connecting” is simply being found better by others (“our visibility will increase”, as you said) – in the same way like it is with websites: the more links you have (in and out), the better you will be found in the web. So (beside the way of personal attention to each of our contacts) to optimize our networking efforts, we should try to maximize visibility in online networks. Do you agree with that?
Best regards, Andreas
On the web, having lots of links doesn’t guarantee much – as I have seen – success on the web also depends on good “content”. Even if people did not link to my blog but came everyday to read it, and I wrote well, when someone searches for “online business networking” or “networking blog” the visibility of the blog would naturally go up.
A lot of people might link to me – but what if they did not read me or know me? No good eh!
Same for online networks – I might be connected to lots of people but if they don’t “know” me, it isn’t any good. The “trick” is to stay in the minds/memory of those contacts by writing meaningful messages that are relevant to them, which doesn’t mean that you write to them every week or every month but whenever a conversation starts – make it a habit to finish it – most of use are so obsessed with getting new contacts that we neglect the existing ones – bad idea!
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