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“Anyone can use these sites – companies and colleges, teachers and students, young and old all make use of networking sites to connect with people electronically to share pictures, information, course work, and common interests.” ~~ Mike Fitzpatrick

So far, all of our focus has been on face-to-face (or at least person-to-person) networking. By now you have a few strategies to expand and deepen your contact database and have, ideally, started to see some results. This week we will venture beyond the confines of our neighborhoods and start to network with the world at large.

As of today (March 26, 2017) there are at least 17 virtual communities with more than 100 million active users. These include more than 2 billion for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Google+, and YouTube. 46% of the human population used the Internet last year (ten times the amount in1995.)

Facebook, for example, was launched in February 2004 and in the past thirteen years has become synonymous with the term “social media.” If you are in business the Internet, especially via social media, provides a wide audience 24 hour each day, 7 days each week, and 365 days every year. Wide open.

Like any offline community, however, there are rules and norms that enhance your ability and you will move through three distinct levels of participation.

The first level is Visibility. This can be daunting against a population of 1 billion Instagram people. Do you think they were busily engaged before you registered and created your online presence? Do you think they will remain that way whether or not you are member 1,127,841,416 or not? Absolutely. Your first challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to gain visibility. You do this by being active. In simple terms activity is measured by posts added. If you have some ideas to share then please do. Start with what you know. You can quickly become a subject matter expert and writing a regular blog is a very good way to do that. WordPress has some very complete tools for doing this, although there are many more.

The key to Visibility is recency and frequency. Visit often and post regularly. Add value every time rather than just noise. Comment on other postings. Subscribe to writers you find value in.

Visibility gets you in the door while Credibility is the currency of success. Your information should emanate and germinate from the vantage point of competence. Back your statements up with empirical data. Keep an open mind. Encourage continual growth. Promote other experts, as well, even when they have conflicting ideas.

When Visibility and Credibility combine against any active population the opportunity for Profitability exists. This triad is called the VCP model.

One word of caution, though, is to apply your time realistically to these sites. Carve a small amount of your schedule for this and stick to that plan. It is very easy to let this time get away from you. I recommend using less productive time for this, as well, until it begins to bear fruit. If you can meet with clients or strategic partners rather than work online—do that. If you can provide customer service or work on your business rather than connect to social media—do that. Small effort on a regular basis is the most effective strategy as opposed to pulling an all-nighter and then avoiding the online world for weeks or months. If you use the word “new” make sure it is. That is, don’t leave information about a new application (dated May 3, 2007.) Go back and change the word NEW to USEFUL. The person or persons on the other end will be checking in their less productive time and taking sips rather than gulps, as well.

Action steps for this week

  1. Join one or more online networking communities. Be selective. Look at other members’ profiles and build yours with the VCP model in mind. You only need a few and take on those you can actually sustain. 2. Start a blog or write a regular column. Think of ten things you wish you knew before starting your business. This can become one entry or ten. Think of ten things you have learned over the past year. Brainstorm other ideas and wade in…the water is fine. 3. Develop an email newsletter for your company. That is a large topic beyond the scope of this blog (at least for now) and many good resources are available. 4. Remember that both online and offline networking are always based on trust. 5. Understand that online networking has its own cultural norms. Find your niche where you are comfortable and be receptive to feedback.

Ultimately what you bring to the equation is entirely unique and valuable. Let your talent shine through.

 

© 2017 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
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Written by bniguy

March 26, 2017 at 4:39 am

Posted in HowTo, online, social media

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