By Frank Agin, Co-Author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website
Successful networking requires a multi-faceted attack. That is, to have a highly productive network, you need to involve yourself in the world from lots of different angles.
You need to continually work your contacts in your networking groups, such as trade associations, civic organizations, and structured referral groups. You need to make a point of attending various networking functions—such as chamber after hours, trade shows, and business open houses. And you need to engage in free-form networking—including things like individual face-to-face meetings, a round of golf, or other activities where you connect with others in an informal manner.
In addition, to be a successful networker in the 21st century, you need to embark upon a degree of networking using specifically designed Web sites, better know as social media. You could cast a presence on LinkedIn. Or you could involve yourself on Facebook. Or you could work yourself onto one of the many other social networking sites out there. Using any one of these can be a great means of adding another weapon to your networking arsenal. After all, these sites have a worldwide reach and operate literally around the clock.
The reality is, however, that LinkedIn, Facebook, and other forms of online social media are just tools in the networking process. They aid you in the development of relationships, but none of them replaces the need for good old-fashioned networking. If you want to be successful using online social media, you need to follow the same rules you would use when networking in the real world. Call this “LinkedWorking”—applying real-world networking habits to social media. Some examples of LinkedWorking include:
- See opportunities in everyone. In the real world, everyone is connected—directly or indirectly—to opportunity for you. As such, you should approach everyone with open-minded respect. This is the same with online social media. You should never dismiss people because of the content of their profiles or stature in life. You just never know with whom they are connected.
- Lead a life of altruism. In the real world, the number one way to be successful in networking is to commit to giving to the world around you. The same holds true for online social media. With everyone that you connect, ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” Then commit to taking action. If you do, things will come back to you in spades.
- Take consistent action patiently over time. In the real world, a flurry of networking once or twice a year generally yields very little, as building strong relationships takes time. This sort of binge networking does no better when it comes to online social media. When you network online, as in the real world, commit to taking consistent, moderate action. Over time, you will be amazed at all that comes your way using this approach. Remember that networking is more like a crock pot than a microwave. With online social networking, the same is true—patience is a critical ingredient.
Successful networking requires you to work on several different fronts. In the 21st century, that should include social media. To successfully operate on this technological front, however, you need to practice LinkedWorking. That is, do the same things in networking online that you would do in the real world.