What is it about on-line social networking that changes the manner in which we, as professionals, approach other professionals in the effort to establish and begin building relationships? It’s almost as if we put on the “on-line social networking hat”, and immediately forget how to interact socially. For some reason, there seems to be a wide-spread belief that networking F2F is conducted differently than networking online…
Take a look at the following F2F vs On-line social networking points. It’s all about perspective. Take what you already know and apply it to modern technology.
Social F2F (Face-to-Face) Networking at an Event Do’s
- Before the event, run an advanced search on LinkedIn on 1st and 2nd degree connections based on who you would like to connect with at the event. If you join the LinkedIn Group associated with the entity organizing the event, you can search within that specific group and message members regarding the event, requesting a few minutes of their time at the event.
Best Practice: download the LinkedIn app to your smart phone. This will allow you to search for the profiles of the professionals that agreed to meet with you at the event, and locate them based on their picture (hopefully!).
- Walk into the event, scan the room, and make your way to the professionals you already have a relationship with, and inquire as to whether they know of anyone in the room that you should know. This gives you the “touch points” and “top of mind status” with your current network.
- Start finding the professionals in the room that agreed to meet with you already. If you can’t find them based on their profile pic, call them or text them with a location in the room where you can connect. Listen to what they have to say and determine how you can help them.
- Be the first to give. Say what you expect to accomplish. Then accomplish the action.
- Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. Email, social media, F2F, phone, skype, etc. Technology today provides no excuses for inability to contact another person.
Social Networking On-Line Don’ts (and Do’s)
- DON’T: LinkedIn is a 24/7 networking event. You can network when it’s convenient for you. Others can network with you when it’s convenient for them. You can network in your pj’s at 2:00 AM if the mood strikes. So why is it that so many professionals out there send the generic LinkedIn connection request? Think about it. Would you just walk up to someone at a F2F event and say, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” without any other information? Probably not (but that would be awkward and hilarious at the same time!).
DO: Customize your LinkedIn invitation to reflect your interest in connecting, or perhaps containing a line or two about the event you both attended, or even with a “looking forward to our meeting next week” message.
- DON’T: Ignore your 1st Degree Connections on LinkedIn. No “touch points” or “top of mind status” activities? Your 1st degree connections are your referral partners, centers-of-influence, business partners, employer/employees, prospects and clients (presumably). These are important people! Don’t just connect and forget.
DO: Wish your 1st degree connections a happy birthday, happy anniversary, congrats on the new job when LinkedIn notifies you of each event. This gives you a minimum of 2 touch points per year, which is better than nothing! Also, post content relevant to your network. Engage in content that your network is providing. Also, check your notifications and stay on top of your 1st degree network.
- DON’T: Ignore advanced searches. Find the people “in the room” that meet your ideal client profile. Leverage your network or your content to open the door. Listen to what they have to say, whether that’s F2F or on social media. Don’t just assume that just because someone connected with you on LinkedIn, that they will automatically let you search their connections and ask for intros! That’s just crazy. Would you walk up to a random person at an event, and ask them to introduce you to the people in their network?!?! Again, probably not but that would be hilarious and awkward at the same time!
DO: Run your advanced searches. Leverage the trusted members of your network that you know, love, and trust. Open doors for them and, in turn, doors will be opened for you.
- DON’T: Bust out of the LinkedIn gate asking your network to introduce you to the professionals they are 1st Degree Connections with, especially if you have no foundation or relationship with that contact.
DO: Schedule a time to meet, skype, call, etc. to talk about becoming referral partners with each other. Show them how to search your connections’ connections on LinkedIn. Provide value outside of your services, and add to the relationship in a meaningful manner. Agree to help each other. Work the process.
- DON’T forget to: Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up.
DO: Tag your 1st degree connections and stay top of mind with the professionals that matter.
The best possible advice I can give is to translate your F2F social networking activities to your on-line social networking activities. If you can portray yourself in the same manner on-line as you do F2F, then you are on the right track!
- Be the first to give to your new business relationships
- Always pay it forward
- Network with purpose.
Good luck and good networking! Remember… It’s All About Leverage.
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