Friday, March 20, 2009

Now that we're connected, buy from me.

“Hi , I want to sell you stuff , tell you how good I am and get connected to people who I don't really know”. This was posted as a joke by one of the members on one my LinkedIn groups. Don’t laugh. It really is what a lot of people on social network sites want to do.

And that probably explains why many people don’t benefit much from trawling these sites. I was reading up on the art of persuasion. I’d always thought that people bought from people they liked, but this research gave me another perspective – you have to like your potential clients. Intuitively, makes sense. We usually like people who like us!

I went through a McKinsey piece “When jobseekers invade Facebook” and another obvious truth leapt out at me – you should enter a social network as a giver, not a taker.

Sounds so much like what mama taught you – when you’re going to someone’s house as a guest, take a long a gift for the hosts. And in India, there’s a whole industry running on “return gifts” at kids birthday parties. So, all we have to do is figure out the online application of these ancient rules of etiquette.

Here are my suggestions – feel free to add yours:

1. Try to build a network of people you like.
2. It is hard for people to maintain a relationship with more than 150 people, so tier your network. You could consider keeping your acquaintances on LinkedIn and promote your friends to Facebook
3. The best time to build your network is when you don’t want anything ie when you’re happily employed or your business is in a steady state. This is also when you will have time to invest in your online presence.
4. Be a giver to your network. Help others find jobs, connect them to useful people, post interesting articles. Remember, do unto others as you would have done unto you.
5. If you feel things are out of control build a walled garden for yourself. Invite only those you really want to have a relationship with into your new secret garden. Facebook allows you to control settings for access, and LinkedIn allows you to form your own group.
6. Don’t assume that online relationships will thrive purely online. There is only so much that a status message can communicate! Phone or meet the ones you like.
7. Use multiple communication channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog, website, YouTube so that you have a range of formats. This will also protect you if one of these falls by the wayside.
8. Stay interesting professionally – read up, conduct polls, go for industry events. Your network needs you!
9. Don’t go online – opt out! Use that time to invest in cultivating the few people you really want to know. I love doing business with a furniture store where the owner remembers my birthday without recourse to a birthday book or reminder tool. It’s a successful business but she still finds time to offer a cup of tea to every regular customer when they visit.
10. If despite point #9, you still want to go online, plan on investing half-an-hour a day to make it successful.


surya said...

good list!

Tej Arora said...

I'd add a couple more
- Direct some energy towards the youth. This could be in the form of participation in your alma-mater's activities, talks at schools/colleges, volunteering with NGOs, etc. Share your wisdom. Love, Listen, Laud, Lead.
- Think of Mentoring someone who could benefit from your expertise. These folks are unlikely to be in your peer network. Mentoring has the wonderful multiplier effect.

Jessie Paul said...

Tej - great point.