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Effective Networking in the Social Era

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In years past if you wanted to build your network, your day to day options were limited.  Sure there were conferences, association meetings, and networking events, but these didn’t occur on a regular basis, they cost time and money, and most people you networked with stayed out of touch until you met at the next event. 

However, the digital revolution we are living through provides many benefits. The ability to build and maintain valuable networks is one of the greatest.

The internet provides means to connect with people from all walks of life for nearly every interest.  Whether your desire to meet other entrepreneurs, ambitious career minded folk, or someone who loves 1957 Chevys as much as you do, it’s almost guaranteed there is a network out there of similar people.

Networking is a key element that helps you take advantage of globalization.  Social networking gives you the ability to meet with people from around the world.  This means you can tap into different talents as well as access different markets, networks, and opportunities. Most jobs and opportunities come from whom you know instead of simply how good your resume looks.  So consider your networking efforts an investment that will have a high return.

Become a Trusted Resource

 However, with that said, always be asking yourself, “What value could I give provide my network?”  Don’t just focus on the benefits that you’ll get.  You must also focus on helping others in your network get what they want.  Networking is give and take.  It is a process, not a transaction.

The more you give, whether it is time, energy, or simply valuable information, the more trust and confidence your network will have in you.  The more people have confidence and trust in you, the stronger your network, the higher the chance they will be willing to help you achieve your goals. 

Not to mention, you will ultimately establish valuable relationships with people from your networks.  Good healthy relationships, personal and professional, are worth their weight in gold.

As you build and maintain your network, you will begin to notice the butterfly effect.  Your network will refer people in their network to you.  Especially online, people are constantly asking for recommendations.  By building a strong network where you are a trusted resource, your network will become to you what a positive review on Amazon is to a product.  Whether you are trying to advance your self or your product, word of mouth recommendations are by far the most effective way of marketing.

 Research Your Networking Opportunities

Keep in mind that there are some strategies that will work well with one group but not with another.  Even for communities focused on the same topic, each one will have a different culture.  Use your best judgment.  The best approach is to listen and observe first in order to gain familiarity with the culture of the online community.  You should do this before jumping right in and asking others to join your network.

Start by finding all of your offline connections, online.  Find out where these connections with similar interests are most active online. 

Next, find out where your desired network is currently active online.  They may hang out in a particular forum, on a Facebook page about a specific topic, LinkedIn, Ning, Twitter, etc.  A little bit of Google searching and connecting dots can go a long way. 

Social Networking Tips

There are some universal tips that can help you as you set out on your social networking adventures.  Many of the same rules apply to online networking that applies to offline networking.  Below I have listed some to help you build a valuable network as you advance on your journey to Power and Progress.

  •  Don’t meet someone once, ask them for a favor and expect good results.  This is not networking. Networking is give and take
  • Be active in the communities you wish to network with.  You can’t effectively network with people if you only drop in once a month.
  • Build credibility.  Become a resource.
  • Understand the ties of your network.  Some networks are weak and loosely associated, some are strong and more closer.  Each  have their own benefits.
  • Maintain your network by staying active in the places where your network is.
  • Don’t just go to the obvious places where you will find people with interests just like yours.  Think outside the box.  Think about related networks that could appreciate what you have to offer while offering something you can appreciate.
  • Strive to meet as many of your connections as possible face to face.  This will strengthen your network and add depth to your relationships.
  • Stay active in your networks.  Set aside time daily or weekly to engage with and provide value to your network.
  • Become truly interested in what your connections are doing.  Let it show.  You want them to be interested in what you are doing, right?
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