samedi, mai 06, 2006

My 2 cents about Online Business Networking

1st advice “Grow your network while you don’t need it”
Perhaps you don’t need to network today, but what about tomorrow?

How do you know that you can’t have any better opportunity than today?

This “Grow your network while you don’t need it” statement may sound weird but it is essential as, to make your network grow, you need to dare inviting people who might decline your invitation. The people you sometimes “blindly” invite may consider you as a spammer. By extension you will also be seen as a spammer by LinkedIn administrators.

If you are in an urgent need of growing your network, for instance looking for your next job, you don’t want to be considered as a spammer, so you want to grow your network before you really need it.

2nd advice “know why you want to network”

As an example, Here are my goals:
I have 3 types of connections corresponding to 3 different networking styles:
  • connections (about 100) with people who really know me
  • connections where we do not know each others but we have something in common
  • connections for seeing, being visible and help people connecting.
    • When I'll be aware of some opportunity on Linkedin, I'll hope to be one connection closer as I have many 1st level connections, 2 millions 2nd level and 15 millions 3rd level. Plus thousands on other networking sites (Viadeo for France and Xing for Switzerland).

I am networking applying concurrently these 3 networking styles.

The number of people that I really or better know is growing thanks to GLE face to face meetings for instance or to email exchange I have with several people through LinkedIn.

Regarding “weak” connections meant “for seeing and being visible”, I spend about half an hour per day helping people to connect by forwarding requests, giving advices. I once forwarded a request between people of the same company (I am not part of this company).

These “weak” connections are also a way to rediscover people I really know from school or previous jobs.

Read more on this subject at HOW DOES QUANTITY BRING QUALITY?

3rd advice "get recommendations from current and past colleagues posted on your profile"

That is one of the top Linkedin or Viadeo feature that does not exists when simply posting your resume on the web.

4th advice "make heavy use of the Q&A feature (on Linkedin) or post on forums"

Show your competencies and what you stand for by using one of the top "LinkedIn plus" feature. By browsing through your questions and answers people wanting to know you better will get a better feeling of who you are. If not registered on LinkedIn use the web groups features (especially on Yahoo). (read also What will be the successor of the current user profile in online networks?, Finding a $250K contract on LinkedIn Answers - Steven Shimek, Ruder Finn PR ).

5th advice “never use standard boiler plate templates” when inviting people to connect

In your invitations be specific, explain clearly and honestly why YOU want to connect with them.

6th advice/fact “The more connections you have, the more time you must spend”

With 1000’s of connections, I spend at least half an hour a day to keep my network alive.
I forward requests, answer questions, give and read advices, Update some various wikis, participate to various Yahoo and Google groups.
By answering questions, forwarding requests, I give a little bit of my time to many people, I hope that a small portion of them will also spend some time when I'll need it.

7th advice “join yahoo networking groups. You will learn a lot”

8th advice “Read other 2 cents advices”

The Unofficial LinkedIn User's Guide for Executives and Professionals

Becoming a Promiscuous Linker on LinkedIn

The (unofficial) source for information about business (social) networking online

Helping Friends Career Network

Ten ways to get LinkedIn to work for you‘ written by Ajay Jain.

Interview of the "biggest" networker: Ron Bates

9th advice “Do not forget other ways of networking”

  • participate to face to face business networking in your region as GLE meetings.
  • publish white papers
  • participate to usenet groups.

 

After 6 years of networking, I still have 4 specifics reasons for getting as many contacts as possible on LinkedIn. Read more...

10 commentaires:

Gautam Ghosh a dit…

Thanks Eric !

Jason Alba a dit…

great thoughts - developing a network when you DON'T need it is critical, and a big part of that is more than just collecting names and numbers - it is seeking ways to give to those in your network. As you do this your credibility and "currency" will grow so that when you do need to call on your network they know you, respect you and already want to help you!

Ann Handley a dit…

Eric -- Good advice for business, and for life: build a community when you don't need it... because someday, you will!

CarlenLea a dit…

Great advice. You're right. It's important to do this BEFORE you need it. If you haven't cultivated these connections in advance, it won't help much when you do need it.

Thanks for also pointing out the time commitment. People always ask me about that part, and it's just part of the game. It's like anything else, if it's a priority you make the time for it.

GERARD a dit…

Just a simple word that can be understood either in french (Viadeo) and in English (LinkedIn and others social networks) :
MERCI

GERARD a dit…

Just a simple word that can be understood either in french (Viadeo) and in English (LinkedIn and others social networks) :
MERCI

Thomas a dit…

Hi Eric, Great advice and ideas, I think the key thing a lot of networks are missing is some usful content to stimulate interaction and to be a focus on networking, and once a site has this, it can really become a focal point for users the world over on in that subject!

Thats my two cents worth!

Thomas Smith ebsi

MySpace Design a dit…

Great tips! Very useful stuff you got here. Thanks very much!

Franz JOURDAN a dit…

I believe that the true value of a LinkedIn account is the level 2 list of connections. I have downloaded and browsed my whole LinkedIn level 2 network (35 000+ contacts) and I am browsing the new contacts every other week, it gives me new leads all the time, very easy to contact. Took me some time the first time I got it all but now it takes me very little time to spot interesting leads in the updates (I am looking for very specific type of companies). The most interesting part is that my direct connections are working for me for free; each time they connect to new people, these people end up in my database and I just have to look at them to spot my sales lead.


It's not a feature of LinkedIn, you have to use a third party service. There are several companies out there that provide this service. I am currently using Smart Bees (http://www.smartbees.biz), they have been very helpful so far.

Aldus Logan a dit…

Thanks for sharing this information with all. just keep update the blog with useful information.

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