Networking is one of the most important professional skills to bloggers. There are places both on and offline that will help you network so that your blog grows and your relationships continue to grow and expand.
What’s the big deal, though, about networking and why does it truly matter? It might surprise you to learn that a majority of my social media relationships, brands I’ve worked with, connections I’ve made, and contacts I have came started from face-to-face meeting.
If you’ve been to a BlogPaws Conference, you know the energy, enthusiasm, networking, idea exchange and layers of relationships that are formed.
So many people think that social media has trumped face-to-face relationships. Here are 5 myths, 5 facts, and 3 action steps to make you take you to the next level of networking and relationship building, both online and off:
Networking is full of cliques: Not so. True, there are people who will always gravitate to one another and small circles will form in any group situation: It’s human nature. Accept this and move past it. Instead of harping on it, dwell on making a positive impact and put yourself out there.
Exchanging business cards is outdated: Myth! Business cards are here to stay, at least for the time being. There is something very magical about returning from a conference, mixer, or expo and going through your stack of cards exchanged. Keep reading for a blogger tip on business cards.
People don’t care about face-to-face relationships anymore: Even if it makes you uncomfortable, getting to know someone in person is imperative to your professional life. If, like me, you work telecommute/from a home office, you must take the initiative to leave the house and connect in person now and again.
People advertise jobs online and networking won’t help me with that: Myself included, I know several people who landed a gig, started a brand relationship, and/or even found a new job by going to conferences like BlogPaws.
Networking only occurs at things like conferences and trade shows: Networking occurs whenever you are in a group of people. Consider this: Networking is all about building relationships, which what life is all about. We meet people, we part, we grow, we form relationships; it’s the circle of life. From the grocery store to the gym, networking serves to broaden your life’s scope as a human being.
Networking Involves Open-Ended Questions: They keep conversation flowing. Whenever I feel a bit uneasy about approaching someone I truly want to meet, I strike up a commonality to get the words flowing. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer.
Examples: “Did you happen to know which session is next?”
“Hi, I’m Carol. Can you tell me how to get a name badge?”
You get the idea….
Follow Through After Networking is Important: There is a fine line between being interested in developing a business relationship with someone and being a pest. Cast the net, reach out, stay on the radar, but don’t be obsessive or intrusive.
Be a Social Giver and Resource: If there is one solid tip I hope you’ll utilize time and again after reading this article, it is this one. Introduce people and connect folks to one another when you are able. You will become known as a strong resource and caring individual. Become one. This is networking at its finest.
Ask for an Introduction When it Makes Sense: Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, everyone could use and introduction now and again. Imagine you attend a conference and really want to meet the speaker of a presentation that wowed you. Ask the host or an ambassador of the event to introduce you.
Hijacking Conversations is a No-No: In social situations, some folks get nervous and tend to talk a bit much: Don’t be one of them. The most successful networkers have a way of making others feel at ease without commanding the conversation. Listen, engage, and ask thoughtful questions.
3 Action Tips
Place a “Notes” Section on Business Cards: I love this tip from Bunny Allen of CarmaPoodale.com blog. On the back of her business cards, she has a section with the caption, “Notes,” so that folks she meets can pen information on the card to remember her. How genius is that! White space rocks on a business card plus it makes for a memorable networking practice. Try it!
Scratch and Leave Your Niche: Attend events that pertain to your niche and consider those that do not. As a pet blogger and writer, I’d never miss the yearly BlogPaws Conference. I also attend events that are held locally and along my life’s travels. These events include expos, but you can look into your local Chamber of Commerce, small business mixers, social media tweet-ups, etc. You never know who just might prove to be a valuable connection.
Take a Social Media Inventory: I do this from time to time and highly recommend it. We live in a fast-paced world where no one has enough hours in the day. Set time aside, with purpose, to review your LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers. Say hello, reach out, start a few Twitter lists. Enlisting your current network to connect with new contacts is another excellent way to start new relationships.
Bonus: There are at least 25 places to network, and you should give that list a look.
What’s your best tip for networking, whether online or in person?