According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore.
Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let me quickly say that of course social media is, and will be even more so in the future, a great networking source. And Susan is an active participant on those networks as well.
Her point is that “[r]eal networking is about real people and real relationships. So she says, “let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking.” Here are her “three rules for effective networking – the old fashioned way”:
- Be Committed. Don’t be looking for Instant gratification. It isn’t in the cards. Rather building a “solid foundation of relationships” is what it will take over time. Spend time listening, asking probing questions and finding things you have in common. Susan suggests an opening question like “Tell me about yourself;”
- Develop a Relationship. Tons of business cards (or “follows” online) isn’t the answer. After an event, she suggests sending an email (ugh, handwritten note is much better) with a copy of an article or link to information about a topic you talked about. Then, of course, more follow up after more follow up should continue; and
- Give, give, give. Think of ways to help someone before asking for referrals or otherwise seeking something from them. By being willing to help the other person first, you will become known as the go-to person, and your network will become very strong in the process. So, ask the question “How can I help you?,” Susan suggests.
Okay, okay. I can hear a thousand of you lawyers out there (Susan is a lawyer, BTW) saying “wait a minute, you can do those things via social media too.” True, but can you do them as well? Or is social media the best way to network? IMHO, whenever or wherever possible, the best networking is still face-to-face interaction. It is not as easy for some for sure. But having a million online acquaintances, by itself, is not the answer.
So, don’t hide in front of your computer monitor. Get out there and network in person…after tweeting your heart away, of course.