Social networking is nothing new – we learned how to do it in grade school. Remember when you made friends with that kid because he always brought PB&J sandwiches and you wanted an 'in' to trade with him…that was social networking.
When we first became professionals we often attempted to expand our resources and network by attending events. We walk around a hotel lobbies with cocktails in hand and introduce ourselves to everybody. Personally speaking, I find that networking events are not very effective for my business. I typically meet a lot of good people but there is nothing that comes from our encounters besides an exchange of business cards and courteous emails. If you want to find something to do with those business cards – go to www.jigsaw.com
Over the past few years social networking websites have swapped our drink tickets and awkward conversations with effective introductions and value added propositions with a few clicks of the mouse. Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and a myriad of other sites have proven very useful and effective for professionals trying to broaden their exposure.
There are so many functions to utilizing Social Networking sites – with a few strikes to your keyboard, you can broadcast an update about what you are currently doing at work, share a best practice, promote a great blog that you just read (ahem), or even join a group that will expose you to people who otherwise you would never share a room with. The possibilities go on and on.
I currently network with people halfway across the world and we are adding value to each other's businesses. I would never have met these people otherwise.
My point in bringing all of this up is to ask you, my network, – what do you find is the most effective way to network on these sites?
What is a success story that you can share about a social networking site? Were you able to expand your business through a partnership initiated on-line? Did you find a new client across the country that you otherwise would never know? You may be doing something that someone else never thought of – sharing a best practice will lead to a growing network. Which is the name of the game, after all!