Many people I work with want to know: What is the secret to online networking? Truth be told, for the most part there is no secret. It seems like an inconclusive and dodgy answer, but this is really a good thing because you can learn to network online from how you network in person. They are very similar to each other.
They are the same in the sense that you cannot plop yourself and your business in a social networking atmosphere and expect to immediately garner a following, yet many people do. You might refer to this as single level marketing and it will eventually obstruct further success whether you’re online or standing in a big room with other people wearing business casual and holding a plate of cheese.
As you group with others making awkward chitchat, you take another bite of a delicious jalapeño cheese cube and realize that your current networking tactic can only take you so far. Well if not networking, then what, psychic advertising or paper airplanes?
Networking is the answer, but not all of it can or should be business to business. When you are handing out business cards like they’re candy and you’re on a parade float, are you bothering to get to know these people at all?
That’s always the worst to me; when someone thrusts their card at me or even more irritating, interrupts a conversation I am having with someone else to tell me their name, what they do, and to call them if I ever need the services they just listed. I have to admit that I rarely remember these individuals and their business cards tend to stray from the pile belonging to those I will be getting in touch with.
It’s a silly contradiction of concepts; face to face networking without bothering to make any kind of connection. The same applies to online. You want to reach and connect with people so they will be interested in what you have to offer.
It’s true that nearly everything worthwhile takes effort, but there is no reason to be discouraged. Once you become comfortable with the similarities between networking online and face to face as well as the technical aspect of navigating online, you can begin to successfully build a following.
This shouldn’t be regarded as a time consuming task; devoting constant attention to networking isn’t realistic so it’s important to make it count when you do.
Next up, Blogging and building a following.