While some people out there may think of social networking as a fad, or even an annoyance, I think it may be the best thing since, well… networking. Sorry if you were hoping for something profound there… And while I can’t seem to join enough networks myself, I find myself running into more and more of these:
Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I understand that on a platform as massive as facebook, there are security concerns for people who are high school teachers or may have had an over-zealous admirer of two in the past. But that’s the exception. When we’re talking about a platform that you’re using to market yourself or your business like the RedWire network for entrepreneurs, the Greenlight Community, the League of Kickass Business People, or even in some cases, twitter – if you’re representing yourself with the a pale, faceless avatar (and bad haircut), you’re really just shooting your self in the foot.
In this calendar year alone, I’ve made dozens of new connections in business and even many new friends simply due to my active presence on networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and various Ning networks, like the two mentioned above. Those connections have been made through my complete willingness to put myself out there and to follow up with the personal touch by connecting in person, or when that’s not possible by phone or Skype. In nearly every case, my connection has been made with someone else who was willing to put themselves out there, connect, discuss, and take a genuine interest in who I am and what I do. It’s really quite a lovely match, when both parties are open to the process.
In these ways, social networking is far superior to old fashioned networking because the online world provides a physical separation to allow you to learn more about the person you’re interacting with before you spend valuable time investing in the relationship. Really, it’s a lot like online dating. And for anyone who’s ever experienced that world (no comment), you’ll know that success is all about putting your best foot forward.
So how do you do that? Amazingly, it’s quite simple:
I suppose I could go on, but really, it’s just that simple. If you put forth a little effort to show who you are, why you’re there, and why people should like you – you’ve done your job. After that, you’ll be able to utilize the platform to its full networking potential. So before you go joining another social network, ask yourself a few questions:
Are you really hoping to connect with people there?
Will it really benefit your personal profile or your business?
And most importantly, do you care enough about it to put in the time needed to present yourself properly?
Please consider these things – for the sake of all of us out there looking for our next great business relationship. Because nobody wants to date an albino with a cowlick….
What are your thoughts on social networking for business folks? Ever tried to ‘date’ an auto-gen avatar? Please leave your $0.02 below in the comments: