Five hundred connections on a LinkedIn profile may sound impressive, but how many of those people do you actually know? Effective networking is a lost art in the digital age as long lists of social media contacts often amount to rosters of connections past.
Translate online “friends” into mutually beneficial business relationships by applying traditional networking skills to 21st-century technology. Taking the time to help and get to know someone just may be the trick that catapults you to your next big career move.
The following relationship-building techniques will help you establish meaningful connections in the marketplace in an era when networking sites make “friends” seem more like a number.
Know the difference between friends, acquaintances and online connections. Some people argue that social media cheapened the term “friend”. Even though you may “know” them online or met them once at a convention and have connected with them virtually, you may not technically be friends. Online communication has blurred the lines of these distinctions. Understanding where your relationship stands is important to know how to maintain proper levels of familiarity when conversing.
Friends and Acquaintances
Send REAL cards. Handwritten thank-you notes and holiday or birthday cards are much more personal. In today’s digital society, you just may stand out.
Call connections to let them know you genuinely care about what is going on in their lives if you have their contact information. It doesn’t have to get too touchy-feely. Congratulating them on landing a big account or winning an award is perfect.
Getting to know you. Pick out a few people that you would like to get to know better. Observe their online profiles for special interests, favorite causes, alumni information, etc. to get a better idea of their likes and dislikes.
Notice any commonalities you may have and build upon it. Any natural connection, if nurtured, may help you establish an authentic relationship.
Respond to blog entries frequently. All bloggers hope that someone out there is reading their content.
Be available to help. Offer your time, if you can. Also, if they come to you for assistance, solve the problem immediately. Trustworthiness and reliability are hard-to-come-by traits in today’s society.
Just thought you might like to know… Send them a check-in e-mail periodically with information regarding their interests.
Refer, refer, refer. Be sure you suggest their services to friends, family and coworkers if you are confident about their work. No matter how well you know them, referrals help build a relationship.
Refrain from automation as much as possible. Nothing says impersonal like a robot response.