Practically every second email I get these days mentions the importance of networking both online and in person. Who am I to argue: without networking, its hard to make the connections you need to build your business or get the word out.
One aspect of networking that is often overlooked is the value of cross pollenation between online and in person networks. Social networks offer a great tool to allow you to maintain your networks and keep in touch with people you meet at all those networking events you attend or to connect with people in advance of real world events.
One of the best ways to build your social networking presence (especially when you are just getting started) is by looking for the low hanging fruit, and by that I mean the people you’ve already met or have a relationship with. Search for colleagues, friends and business partners in these forums, add them and watch your social networks grow. When you attend presentations, search for the presenter in these online forums and make contact with them as well as people you meet at the event.
When I started my career in sales and marketing before the advent of social networks, it was drummed into me how important it was to keep a record of all of the contacts I had made and to regularly call them or email them to maintain the relationship, and this remains true today. Initially, this was easy as I only had a handful of contacts but as this grew, maintaining my contacts became a time consuming, boring, dreaded chore. These days, thanks to social networks, I am in constant contact with my circles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Biznik. The tedious task of maintaining my network has become fun and doesn’t take up much time at all.
Today, the rolodex (or the Fillofax – do you remember those?) which was vital to good business networking as recently as a decade or so ago has gone the way of the typewriter or the dodo and thank goodness for that. When I see one of these, it becomes an object to reminisce over and to rejoice at its passing. I am glad they are gone: maintaining my contacts through the appropriate social networks is much more effective thanks very much.