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Social media relationships

My last post was about networking with a bottle of wine, so I thought I’d also aim it more specifically on social media as Chris did in his original post.

Using social media (facebook, twitter, blogs, You Tube, etc) is in many ways exactly the same as more traditional networking and socialising. Building these relationships depends on being friendly, listening to people and showing interest.

Even the differences are based on the same principles, they use technology to reach those aims. If you met someone at a party, you would answer them by talking; in social media, it is still polite and expected that you answer but you might do so by posting a comment or retweeting instead.

So some social media networking tips are:

  1. be generous with links – if you like something add the link to your blog, tweet it, write about it in Facebook, and so on. It costs you nothing but time, it actually gives you something to write about and is likely to help the creator
  2. visit other people’s blog, Facebook wall, twitter profile, You Tube channel and so on. You can learn more about them than just responding to their emails and comments, and they will probably appreciate you leaving comments when you visit
  3. if networking for your business, broaden your topics – chat with people about other interests (if you network in real life, you’d probably have some references to the weather, the food, the venue or major news/sports of the day, so why not on social media?)
  4. link all your social media outlets – it makes it easier for someone to find what they want but also helps your Twitter followers discover your blog readers, etc.
  5. give more often (by a long shot) than you promote or sell; Chris Brogan suggested a 15:1 ratio – what do you think is a good ratio?
  6. share information on how to socialise online – you don’t need to tell people how to talk but not all your customers and contacts know the purpose of # in a tweet or how to embed a video in a blog
  7. remember to touch base frequently – just like friends drift away if you don’t see them much, online contacts will forget you if you don’t tweet for a month or so.

I’m not a social media expert (closer to the beginner end of the scale really) so I’d love to hear your tips for maximising social media networking…

Bring wine when networking

Would you really take wine to every networking event? Probably not so let me explain…

Chris Brogan wrote a story in his blog about social media and not being ‘that guy’. In short, the story is that if you’re going on a picnic with friends take a bottle of wine rather than just coming along and eating everyone else’s food. Sounds obvious in that context doesn’t it?

The same principle applies in networking (Chris was specifically referring to social media but I am putting it together with all networking). People will respond better if you give something of value rather than if you just try taking.

So if someone at an event or on a forum says “I’m having trouble writing some promotional articles“, I could answer with “What questions do people often ask about your industry? Answering those questions is a good place to start your articles. Here are some tips in my blog.”

Or I could be that guy and answer with “I write articles – you should pay me. Did you know I could also write your website and I …”

Effective networking is about building relationships rather than selling yourself.

Here are some networking tips off the top of my head:

  1. hand out business cards to selected people rather than everyone in reach
  2. remember things about people you network with – jotting down some notes soon after helps – to show you are interested
  3. be generous and show an abundant mentality – tell others about great promotional opportunities, give your opinion and expertise, link to other blogs/websites whether or not they link back, and so on
  4. smile! It’s much more inviting than a scowl, and it can even change your voice if you are on the phone
  5. introduce people to each other. For example, a friend mentions needing a plumber and you met one last week at a networking event – give your friend those contact details. It also means introducing people looking alone at an event too
  6. use people’s names – it means a lot to them and using it soon after hearing it helps you to remember it, too
  7. don’t be afraid to ask for help (not for business mind you) as it shows you are human and you give people a chance to help. Maybe you ask for referrals to a service, opinions on a decision you need to make or for understanding a technical issue.  Pretending to know everything and be perfect is likely to alienate people than attract them

What other tips do you have for effective networking?

What makes a good conference?

Everyone I have spoken to enjoyed the conference I attended in July and that got me wondering why – and thinking about other conferences I’ve been to and heard of. So I want to know what makes a good conference?

Knowing what makes a good conference is very useful if you ever have to plan one, but it can also be useful in deciding whether or not to invest your time and money into a particular conference. Business events can be a great resource – but they can also be a waste of time and money if you don’t choose carefully.

Some of the features that I think helped make this particular conference good are:

  • It was fully catered (morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch) so no one had to leave the venue to find food. That meant we all stayed together, had networking opportunities and time to visit the expo stalls
  • Sessions went for about 75 minutes each which was long enough to get useful information but not so long everyone was restless and loosing concentration. Longer sessions also means more people get up and leave the room which is distracting
  • more than one session was run at a time for most of the conference – everyone was together for plenary and forum sessions – so we had choice. That meant I didn’t have to attend any workshops aimed at beginners and no one had to struggle with irrelevant or overly advanced topics if they didn’t want to
  • we got a handbook which included notes from all presentations – so I can read about the sessions I missed as well as not gathering single handouts that are easily lost
  • the presenters covered a variety of topics which seems appropriate for small business owners (as we have to know about so many topics to succeed!) Of course, a conference may not be as varied and still be good depending on the overall topic of the conference
  • all presentations included practical ways to use the information so it was easy to implement it straight away – and we all know that if you don’t use new information quickly, the chances of benefiting from it later are much less. This was actually promoted as part of the conference which wouldn’t always be the case

What features have you particularly appreciated about a conference or business event?  Do you agree with the features I listed as being valuable (especially if you were at this conference!)?


Vistaprint Australia
Promotional items are a must at business conferences and other networking opportunities.

Just giving out cards does not work

I have just been reading part of the Small Business Diva blog where she wrote about networking, and her 6th point reminded me of a networking breakfast I attended a month or so ago.

Donna-Marie wrote ” When at networking events, don’t try to talk to everyone there and shove as many business cards as possible into everyone’s hands nor push your products/services on people. ” And I couldn’t agree more. Networking is about building relationships, not getting your name in front of the maximum number of people.

At the breakfast I attended, I happened to sit next to a man who didn’t tell me his name or show much interest in talking to me (his choice, and it doesn’t bother me!) However, as he stood up to leave he handed a business card to everyone within reach, said good-bye and left. He still didn’t say his name or use mine (I had introduced myself).

The end result? I left his card on the table and he gained nothing from handing it to me.

Compare that to others I have met at networking events where we have swapped cards and later exchanged emails and possibly helped each other in some way, even if we never used each others’ services.

So don’t go to networking events with the aim to hand out heaps of cards; reserve your cards for the people you click with or who specifically ask for a card or information about your services.

Walking out of a networking event with two or three, or even one, good contact is a great feeling – and a successful event.