Real-life networking vs. online networking

December 9, 2008

We're told to network. Unfortunately, network is four parts work, three parts net.  That's not enough for me.  I like to enjoy what I do more than 42 percent of the time.  Do we not put our best efforts forward when we're having fun? Try comparing how you network online to how you network in real life. Online, you probably post on relevant forums, write useful articles or blogs or submit to social media websites.  In real life, you likely network by joining business groups and attending conferences.  Of course, you also network when you go to the tennis club, play a round of golf, join book clubs and meet people doing anything else you like to do. And its those people with whom you develop relationships through a mutual hobby or passion -- and not those you seek out at business conferences -- that are most likely to become loyal customers if you sell something they want. The same holds true online. If you only make yourself known in business circles, you are only known to the business world as one of a myriad of competitors vying for the dollar. Plus, you're probably boring yourself to death making posts with no intent other than to market your business.  But, when you pursue your real-life passions and hobbies online, you begin to develop relationships based on mutual trust and admiration, unencumbered by pretenses of competition or the almighty dollar. So, when you spend time posting online, make sure you visit your favorite community sites just for pleasure.  It doesn't matter what your passion is, either:  fly fishing, old horror B movies, the iPod, history, football –- anything goes.   Include a brief business blast and a link in your bio, and actively participate in discussions.  This does not mean that you should advertise your services (though a linked signature at the end of posts doesn't hurt). Stay true to the topic and engage yourself in your passion and the shared passions of others.  The rest will take care of itself, because you've found common ground. Have you gotten business contacts through non-business avenues?  Tell me about it!

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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