With sites like Facebook making it possible for the world to see who you associate with, and what they're saying to and about you, managing our online persona just got a whole lot harder!
A strong network which can put you in touch with the *right* people is one of the bedrocks of a POWER brand. However, I’ve often wondered whether you can really build that kind of network in the rather sterile, forced environment of a networking meeting (you know the kind of thing I mean – 20 professionals who haven’t got enough clients meeting over breakfast to try to sell to each other).
How’s that for a provocative statement. hey, I might even start to generate a few comments!
Anyway, I have two big reservations as to the effectiveness of those meetings.
A lot of the people who go (but I will admit not all of them) are
there to sell. Networking should be about building relationships. One
of my business mentors summed it up quite nicely: if you sell to one
person then they may or may not refer you on. If you build a
relationship with them, then you may not sell to them at all, but they
will promote you to all of their network. Of course, some people will
always go in with the ‘a bird in the hand’ mentality, but to me that’s
Networking offends my sense as a marketer because it is very much a
one-to-one activity. Even in networking meetings, you often end up
having to approach people one at a time. This isn’t a good use of my
time. I want something that lets me build up a network with lots of the
right people at the same time
Which brings me, in a roundabout way (as so many of my posts do) to the point. Social networks are taking off for business precisely because they don’t fall into either trap – and if they do they wother on the vine.
What do I mean by a ‘social network’? Well, for business networking Linked In and Ecademy spring to mind. But businesses are are also discovering the ‘casual’ networks: many major corporations have set up ‘outposts’ in Second Life, Cap Gemini have set up a profile on Facebook where aspiring consultants can discuss the firm – positive and negative, and NewsCorp has gone as far as to buy MySpace. I found an interesting article on the subject by Thomas Power, founder of Ecademy.
Personally, I’m on both Linked In and Ecademy. I can also be found lurking occasionally in Second Life as Roberto Robledo, Second Life Coach. I believe these networks will become an indispensable part of our personal brand over the next few years – and with sites like Facebook making it possible for the world to see who you associate with, and what they’re saying to and about you, managing our online persona just got a whole lot harder!