Friday, February 03, 2006

Open Question Friday - Week #4

Every Friday I answer a question from readers of this blog on how they should handle a specific issue with regards to networking, business development, career, etc...

Today's question was asked of me at a seminar I presented to a law firm in Washington DC on Thursday.

Question #4

"What do you think of LinkedIn and other on line networking sights?"

Great question. LinkedIn and other on line services have popped up over the past few years. I think that many people believed that these "communities" would somehow replace the need to network in person and that business opportunities would just happen via the internet.

Those who hate networking especially liked this concept. You could sign up, connect to others....and then electronically network with their contacts without ever having to go to a business networking event again.

But it does not work that way. You cannot remove the human interaction from building your business.

LinkedIn is a great tool that can help you find out how to meet someone, but it does NOT make these people part of your network. It is only a tool, not a magic way to build your network. It is a way to make first contact with someone.....but just being connected does not mean you have built a true business relationship.

Just because your friend "Bill" knows "Mary" does not make "Mary" your friend. In order to have Mary as part of your network, you would need to earn her trust, respect and mutual understanding of each other's business goals. That takes time and personal interaction.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer


Glenn said...

I agree with Thom about Linked in, but I also believe that social software like this is where cellphones were in 1990. Big, clunky, and not used by too many people. But the phone people kept making improvements and now phones are considered a standard part of your business "attire." Just as you use Google to do prospect research now, in the future you'll do the same and more with LinkedIn and others.

It will grow in importance as high schoolers move into the workforce (they'll use it instinctively) and as it improves in functionality. But, like the cellphone, it won't replace the human interaction, it will facilitate it. For the next generation or two (or longer)you'll still need to get face time, then follow up and follow through.

Larry Bodine said...

I'm with you, Thom. My network is in person and human. I have 98 connections on LinkedIn, which is average, I suppose. But in the two years I've belonged to the network, I haven't done a thing with it. No one has approached me about anything either, except to join their ignored network.