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Women network differently from men. Men tend to function from a "Good 'Ol Boys Club" mentality and are often far more strategic. They will arrive at an event and try to gauge who they should talk to and who they need to be introduced to. Women, by nature, are much more personable and will, often times, exchange a meet and greet with others without making business the focal point of the discussion.

On one hand, men tend to find it easier to have business relationships on a range of different levels. Women in business tend to start out by developing a friendship base and don't always understand that business is about strategic positioning and building a network of people around you who provide resources, consultations, partnerships, advice, etc on a variety of different business related levels.

I admit I am still very new to online networking but I have discovered some things that work and things that DON'T work.

1. Join one or more online networking communities:Actively participate. No matter which community you choose, however, after joining, you need to participate.

2. Start a blog or write a regular column for a web site or e-newsletter:You can start a blog (basically an online diary) on one of the larger blogger sites or online communities; you'll create more buzz for yourself.

3. Develop an e-mail newsletter for yourcompany:Create an e-mail database of clients, customers and friends, and send them regular content that drives them to your own web site.

4. Never forget that online networking is still about developing trust:In order to drive business to your company by word of mouth, you must focus on developing real, personal relationships with people.

5. Research your market: You have two ears and one mouth; listen more than you talk. Through participation in these communities, companies can learn about consumer interests and reactions with a candor rarely found in focus groups and surveys.

6. Create Competence: If becoming an expert in your field is part of your marketing strategy, social networks give you a much more accessible outlet than the media. You can speak up in a mailing list, discussion forum, or blog, and reach hundreds or thousands of people. Say something useful, original, and profound, and you will get quoted and linked to, reaching even more people.

7. Build and reinforce your brand: Every signature in an e-mail or on the Web, and every profile online, is an opportunity to reinforce your brand.

8. Stay away from Negative Posts: If someone is criticizing another individual for something they may have said or done, the best thing to do is not to offer a comment at all. Chances are you don't know the dynamics of the situation and it could be more harmful to you in the end. Also, don't initiate negativity because you will be viewed as a naylsayer and that is a sure turn-off.

One more thing, even though it appears online marketing is much more impersonal that one-on-one contact, trust me, it still has impact. People will still form opinions about you by the words that you write and the topics you bring up. They can also influence othersin their opinions of you as well. And those opinions will either establish you as a successful online businesswoman or will have you frustrated over spending TOO MANY HOURS on the computer!

Beverly Mahone discusses baby boomer issues in her book, Whatever! A Baby Boomer's Journeyh Into Middle Age.


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