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Networking is a passion of mine. Since about 2 years I have 3 local networking groups. And I love it. But networking is something you need to learn. Like everything in life. There are different ways of networking. There are many options to attend local meetings. Or you can choose to network online. Both require etiquette and skills.

I have been networking online for about 3 years now. I must admit that when I first started, I really spend too much time answering posts on boards, posting comments on guestbooks and trying to help people connect. I had to limit my time.  Since I am very organized, I have made a schedule for myself. And I keep myself to it, visiting the networking pages only on the days and hours that are reserved for online networking.  

There are many networking sites out there. It is hard to make a choice, but once you check them out, you will see which one fits your needs. It happens to me often that I cancel out an site after a few month just because it is not the site I feel comfortable with. Or I find the site is too much geared towards plain advertising.

Message boards and networking sites are different. A site that is strictly a message board is different from a networking site, because it does not offer you a home page on which you can fill out your own profile. It is only used for exchanging messages. You will however have the chance to introduce yourself in the 'Introductions' section. I prefer networking sites. On these sites you will have a profile page. This page can usually be tweaked so it reflects you in colors, font, etc. The advantage is that you have a permanent 'advertisement' for yourself and your business.

On networking sites I often get a message from people who are interested in networking with me and I in most cases I have no idea who they are. I don't understand how anyone could believe that I would want to respond with a simple click on the 'yes' button to someone who hasn't even taken the time to write me a little note.  

What do you do in this situation situation? Is online Networking any different than face-to-face networking?
In my opinion one difference in the face-to-face kind is that you immediately know if you 'click' with someone. As opposed to online networking, where (most of the time) you do not get the 'feel' of the person you are talking to right away. Online networking takes times and requires etiquette. Just as you would be polite meeting someone for the first time face-to-face.

Local networking meetings AND online networking sites are not just about doing business. No one likes to have a sales pitch in the first few minutes of meeting you. They‘re about making connections and building relationships.
The first step in making a networking connection is to simply introduce yourself. Online that means post an introduction to the group and then start sending comments to the boards or threads, give your opinion on comments others have written and threats other people have posted and get comfortable with the group. Let them get comfortable with you too. Then start talking to the ones you feel you have a connection with or you could network with by email or PM.

A good way to find out if you have anything in common is to visit their homepage and read their entire page. Follow their links. Read their guest book entries and look at the list of networks they are affiliated with. This way you can find out if they might be the person you would enjoy having as a friend or business connection.

Then send them an email or private message. Connect with them. Make a new friend. That way, when you do ask them to network with you, they will be more likely to respond 'yes'.
Online or face-to-face networking, there is a right way and a wrong way. Take your smile with you when you go and be open to sharing your thoughts and ideas. Networking is relationship building and making friends.  

Yvonne
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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Jun 7, 2008
    • Yvonne,

      Since you are involved in many networks, maybe you can tell me which one in your opinion provides a very easily navigated forum and groups.

      We are going to re design and re structure our groups, but still not sure how.

      Any ideas you can throw our way? What do you feel works for you?
      Thanks
      All the best,
      Yana



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Amy L. Harden wrote Jun 9, 2008
    • Yvonne:

      What a great blog...as you know I love social networking too!  

      I am a big proponent of Facebook as a networking tool.  I have built a huge list of people who are in internet business from all avenues of the business.  If you have the movers and the shakers of internet business or your particular niche on your friends list AND you join their Facebook groups...you are privy to their latest internet business ventures or products, even before the general public is aware.  On many occasions you are offered a FREE look at their Webinars, E-books, Videos and Podcasts.  In fact your networking list on Facebook tends to open the doors to everyone...even those in business internationally.  It takes time and work...doing all the things you outlined in your blog...but in the end, the rewards are great and you have met some talented and great people that are willing to help you when the time is ripe.

      Another networking site I have used is *Stumble Upon*...this is a site where you can get a feel for what people are doing on their blogs and web sites.  It is a good place for a beginner to start, learn how to set up a profile...it is easily created and navigated.  It also allows you to get a feel for for what the folks that are using the internet are looking for as far as web content and web site/blog trends.  You have to be careful with this site...it is addictive and a time waster.  I have found myself caught up in the joy of just surfing the web and not getting anything done on my own projects.  I have met some great people here also and have created some very close friendships at SU.  I have been able to build my blog traffic through my SU list of friends and fans.  (Be aware that there are people here that surf pornographic web sites also...if this is not your cup-o-tea...make sure you set your security to NO Adult Content)

      SU provides you with a tool bar that you can download, which eliminates the extra step of logging in to the site, along with being able to add on to iGoogle, if you utilize this tool.  This makes navigation and stumbling easy to use for the web  site...Facebook has has the same thing, if you use FireFox as your browser, instead of Internet Explorer.  Downloading the Google Web accelerator is beneficial, when adding tool bars.  

      I agree with your thoughts on forums and web sites that allow you to create your own blog page or profile, especially if it’s a web site that devotes its topic to your particular niche.  More and more web sites are going to this sort of forum set-up and I will be following suit when my own web site goes LIVE.

      The only thing about these profiles and pages...you need to be prudent in the information that you are supplying here.  Create a web based e-mail or use the e-mail provided by the site itself, linking your comments and messages back to the internet based mailbox.  This will avoid people from phishing and stealing your info and ultimately deterring the spammers from sending e-mail that you didn’t ask for.  Make sure you check the the privacy and security option at each web site you decide to utilize.  

      Well, that is a few little tid-bits from my little corner of the world...maybe there are others who would like to comment...I don’t want to hog the space...you know I can comment forever. happy

      Amy
      Shepherdess5

      AWE-A Woman of Elegance

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