Jan 10, 2008

Social Networking: Connecting To Others

Are you using social networks online? If you aren't, you're missing out on the biggest networking explosion since the founding of the Chamber of Commerce.

Seriously, I've gained over 1,000 contacts in the past two months through my business network at Plaxo. Not only that, but I've gained 5 of my guests over the next three months on my ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Radio Show from Plaxo, too, either from comments or noticing the background of people posting into my groups I've subscribed to. I'll talk more on the power of groups later, but for now, I want to offer you some simple guidelines for connecting with others on a business network or social network:

Guidelines for connecting with others on a social network:

1. Introduce politely. Say why you want to connect. It is good to mention that you saw a post you liked, and felt a kindred spirit, or something like that. Even something as simple as "I loved your comment in the Blogging For Business group. We share similar ideas - let's connect!" Is a good opener.

2. Suggest connecting. If it isn't clear, suggest ways to connect. I usually suggest connecting through the website, and also offer other ways they can find me, such as through http://www.arriive.com/, http://www.aspirenow.com/, http://www.semanticcollaboration.com/, or through my blog.

3. Offer gratitude. I believe that an attitude of gratitude goes a long way in business. So, be thankful or appreciative of their connection. Show this in your comment to them. "Thanks for connecting!" can be sufficient.

Other guidelines to remember:

1. An invitation ignored is better than a rude NO. Don't push. Sometimes people have responded to my email THREE months after I wrote them! You never know how busy other people are, so it is best to avoid being pushy.

2. Invites are always received. They are not always responded to. I've invited many people and had them ignore my request for various reasons (one person yesterday told me that I'd invited using her personal email, but she only links to business email as she doesn't want spam on personal email). Their reasons are usually good, so in time, if it is meant to be, it will be.

3. Thank people for "adding you" as their connection or friend. I do this with my band through MySpace and it often results in MORE add requests from people who see my "thanks for the add" post in the other person's comment field.

4. Keep your profile updated. I've avoided and ignored people who didn't have an active profile. I'm sure I'm not the only one who expects you to show that you care enough to update your profile.

5. Keep a backup of your contacts somewhere other than the network. I've heard of several people who lost their whole network because they failed to backup. Don't be one of those people!

I'll be discussing more ways to utilize social networks in the months ahead. Let me know what Social networks do you use? Any other tips to connect for more success?

Copyright © 2008 by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All rights reserved.

ARRiiVE Business Solutions helps executives improve sales, launch products and services, and build dynamic, cross-functional collaborative teams. For more information, contact info (at)ARRiiVE (dot) com or call us at 1 (805) 459-6939.

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