Generosity and Sharing in Building Your Network: Top Tips for Online Networkers

Posted by: on May 14, 2014 | No Comments

Editorial Intelligence, Julia Hobsbawm’s networking business, has recently published, with Ernst & Young a White Paper entitled “Fully Connected” where she outlines some of the key skills that professionals can learn to become better connected, proficient “knowledge networkers”.

This very persuasive read (available to download here ) provides 5 “Arrows” (inspired by the graphic representation of Roschlid’s five sons as they went out into the world – “each with a key ‘tip’ to end with regarding the principles and practices of knowledge networking”.

One arrow is based on “Curiosity and Generosity”:  and it chimes exactly with our mantra of “Give Value to Get Value” in our work with developing networking skills amongst teams and workforces.

The Arrow reads as follows:  “This is the age of collaboration and reciprocity. Share what you know with others: send a link you have read, order a book and put it in the mail, help someone who looks like they are having an attack of shyness across the corner of a cocktail party room. Above all, be interested in ideas and others, not just yourself.”

It is this step arrow that digital technology allows you to do quickly and effortlessly; on the fly, as it were.

E-mail, blog posts and some social networking platforms make sending ideas, images and information to specifically targeted people very straightforward.  A quick personalised message with an image, weblink or pdf attachment which is highly targeted and tailored (in other words, which is “spot on” and timely) can be sent with a flick of the wrist or a few clicks of the mouse.

However, in these days of email saturation and the relative scarcity of time and attention discussed earlier, this is still a tactic to use judiciously.  Season your communication with such messages rather than bombard your targets with relative trivia.

The virtual networker has a number of assets to exploit at a tactical level to help develop relationships.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • If you meet someone with a specific concern and you have some useful information to share that you have found online, send a link and a quick message when you follow up.  This could be anything from a judgment on the VAT treatment of jaffa cakes, to the name of a great plumber in your area.
  • This type of information has even more potency if it is a blog post or article that you have written.  Not everyone can write in “mainstream” media (but if you can write for specialist press, so much the better), but we can all publish online now.
  • Some people have useful information available on their LinkedIn profile, which in itself provides a reason for people to contact them and for relationships to develop.  Wayne Breitbarth’s book “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success” describes how Wayne, the owner of an office furniture company, has a “Office relocation checklist” available for download on his company’s LinkedIn page.  It is a genuinely useful and comprehensive document that discusses all aspects of office relocation and not simply furniture removal.  But once someone has downloaded it, Wayne is entitled to follow up with some interesting (and potentially value-adding) questions of his own.  This bullet point somewhat over-simplifies but ultimately Wayne is able to ask a couple of key questions “What size and type of office relocation is it?” and more tellingly, can he help by supplying them some new office furniture?
  • Checklists, top tips, guidance, caution and comparisons are all useful pieces of information that can also allow you to give value to get value and display your expertise in a practical, customer facing way.  Building useful collateral that genuinely adds value and publishing it on your website is more effective than hours of Search Engine Optimisation as it will give you material to send to contacts (and perhaps disseminate more widely).
  • It is not impossible, having met someone who mentions a business issue that they are grappling with, to write an article with some useful content and your “take” on the issue together with some practical measures that can address it.  You can then upload it to your website and send it to the person you have just met.  Experience shows that they never fail to be impressed with how prescient the article is “as if it were made for me”.

For all that – don’t forget the value of the face-to-face meeting!  As Helga loves to say “Don’t send an e-mail to do a phone call’s job”.  And therefore, I guess, don’t connect online when it might be better done in person.

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