When I began my career, I had great mentors who taught me how to network myself in the business community to generate leads and ultimately business. The formula was simple – go to every South Shore Chamber of Commerce function and meet people who run businesses. It was a simple formula and it worked well for those who worked hard at it.
If you used that as your sole way to develop business today, you’d have a rough road ahead of you. All you need to do is look at people at any investment conference during the breaks – everyone is checking email or talking on their cell phones. They take a break on occasion to talk with people that they already know. If you try old-school networking, you’d find yourself talking with the hotel waiters who are trying to keep the coffee station clean.
People who think of Social Networking as ‘Social Not Working’ miss the boat. I’ll prove it with one simple step. Take a moment and Google your name. (go ahead and do it now; I’ll wait)….
Where did the real ‘you’ show up in the search results?
Could someone that is looking for you, find you quickly and easily?
Could they find you at all?
This is where social networking comes into the picture.
I use Facebook and LinkedIn on a regular basis. My former partner, Mike Feinstein and I have a running debate about which is more useful for business. Mike believes that LinkedIn is the equivalent of a business trade show and Facebook is a cocktail party. I contend that I get a lot of business done at cocktail parties. I admit that I use both – just in case of the unlikely event that Mike is correct.
When you Google ‘Tim O’Loughlin’, my LinkedIn profile comes up third in search results…and when you click on the link, my profile is at the top of all ‘Tim O’Loughlins’ in the search results on LinkedIn.
It’s because I regularly update my LinkedIn profile. I also share articles with my connections. Search engines love constantly fresh content. When people go to LinkedIn, my profile tells them more about what I do. It also contains a lot of customer references that say stuff that I could never say about myself (without looking immodest). They can also see who we know in common – very useful for blind reference checks.
Facebook enables me to stay in touch with former colleagues and investors. It’s fun to see what people are doing and it further strengthens personal relationships. One of my least favorite sayings is “it’s not personal, it’s just business.” That phrase is usually being used by someone who is acting badly. For me everything is personal. I make a personal investment in my relationships with my business partners and clients. Facebook makes that a bit easier with people having busy lives… plus it’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with that.
BTW, my inspiration for this came from a few articles recommended to me…by some of my friends on LinkedIn…Joshua Pascoe at AccountAbility Outsourcing if my failing memory serves me correctly.