An article in the October 2011 edition of Director Magazine from the Institute of Directors caught my eye this week. Entitled 'The Secrets of Social Networking' it features the six finalists in the IoD's best-connected women in British business poll. Each of them reveal how they network and why it is so important.
The thing that strikes me from each of their comments is that they share similar views about social networking and there is no secret! Networking is first and foremost about building relationships whether that is online or offline. The following are just some of the great networking insights shared in the article.
Polly Gowers, founder, Everyclick.com:
"It's about more than networking – it's about relationships... My advice is to talk to people – it is the personal connection that matters. The old-fashioned basis of creating a relationship doesn't change – once you've got that groundswell of following, then you can start to leverage it using technology."
Lynne Franks, founder of SEED (Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics):
"I use all social media – it's a different kind of connection. That's what's great about it: one tweet can reach thousands of people in seconds. I do still have face-to-face meetings – I'd say I spend three days a week in meetings. Now I've got B.Hive (a women's business networking club), I've got the place and the space. Never abuse your connections or friendships – I don't ask favours of any of them. It's about creating a healthy business relationship on merit. Go to the networking events, and be prepared to work hard if you really want something. "
Bindi Karia, VC/Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft BizSpark:
"My network helps my customers – it's as simple as that. The more, better and deeper connections I have, the more useful I am. It's important to combine different ways of connecting and not to just rely on one tool. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and good old email are all incredibly powerful ways of staying connected. But the best connections start with face-to-face meetings and attending and speaking at industry events. Nothing replaces real human interaction... Don't be selfish: always try to be prepared to help your network/connections without necessarily expecting anything in return. The greater the contribution you make, the more people will value you and will respond in kind."
Lucy Marcus, founder, Marcus Venture Consulting:
"It is not just about the number of people you know or the mountain of business cards you collect, but rather about the depth and authenticity of the relationships you build and sustain, the depth and maturity of the connection you have with one another, and about nurturing and valuing the free flow of ideas. The integration of social media tools and the use of technologies such as Skype means that used properly, the online and offline exchange of ideas can be seamless."
Shaa Wasmund, founder, Smarta.com:
"I'm a firm believer in building long term-relationships, not simply "networking". I have been helped by some of the most unlikely of connections and we can learn from everyone. Being well connected enables me to connect and help more people. Collaboration is the most important word in my business dictionary. I've found Twitter to be an invaluable way to help make introductions, but nothing beats spending real time with people in person... Listen more than you talk. Be interested in people for who they are, not what you might be able to get from them. Give freely, give generously and give without expectations."
Carole Stone, chairman, YouGovStone:
"I have assiduously kept a record of people I have met and found interesting throughout both my professional and my personal life. Once I've met them I try my hardest to keep in touch. I think we can all learn from each other's experiences – how other people cope with what life throws at them. Nothing compares with face to face – so often I have found a real meeting invaluable – but my trusty mobile is constantly at my side. Networking for me is not an add-on – it's an essential. Good networking is making the most of the people you meet to your mutual advantage... Add people you want to keep in touch with to your database, cross-referencing where you met, and invite them to something in the near future, before they forget who you are."
Read the entire Director Magazine Article here.