It really amazes me how some small business owners believe that having a LinkedIn profile and joining LinkedIn groups, but not participating, equates to networking.
Nor is having a Twitter profile but never participating in discussion an effective networking strategy.
The following (lack of) actions, in my opinion, do not constitute networking:
- Joining your local business club/society/association but never going to the meetings or events.
- Signing up to online networking web sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning and not participating or contributing.
- Never attending seminars or industry events.
- Having a blog for your business but not allowing comments from your readers.
- Not submitting articles authored by you or your staff to industry publishers or top online focused sites.
Business owners need to start working on building trust with prospects and customers directly again.
In order to build trust you need to prove that you can be trusted.
In order to be trusted you need to communicate in a more direct manner with people.
On reflection, before modern technology such as the printing press, radio, TV and Internet people did business face-to-face. What the new forms of technology allowed us to do is communicate with many people for minimal effort.
However the latest technology we are now creating focuses on getting back to 1-on-1 communication again. It seems that we, as humans, are slowly starting to comprehend – again – that face-to-face is the only way to really form lasting relationships.
Broadcast technology, whereby the message is sent by one person and reaches many, is failing because no one is listening anymore. People have been bludgeoned into putting up defenses against the noise such as the mute button on the TV, the trash bin for direct mail and SPAM filters for unwanted email.
People are not listening anymore to the puffed up ramblings of the PR machine which vomits out such delights as “leader in ”, “award winning”, “best in market” etc… In fact some very high profile bloggers are starting to get very upset with it all.
As a business owner you need to network and network well not only by using the new social media tools available which allow for 1-on-1 communication but to actually get off your bum and meet your prospects and clients. Only then can you truly listen to what your prospects and customers need from you.