There’s networking and then there’s networking and everyone in the business of networking well tell you something different.

Those of us who are not in the business of networking, by which I mean those of us who do not run or organise networking events of Business-to-business (B2B) businesses (that’s an awful lot of ‘businesses!’), have their ideas, too.

networkingTraditional networking, pre-social media and now approximately a decade out of date, entailed heading off to social gatherings and forcing your cards onto anyone and everyone.

A “good” networker would file your cards in some sort of order and follow you up a few days later. Generally, the follow up would result in them somehow turning your business structure/purpose/mission into something that closely resembled theirs and how you could a) work together for their benefit or b) how your clients/customers would benefit from their business.

I’d like to be able to say this is no longer done, but it’s still alive and well in the business community.

Social media came along and, unfortunately, this mentality remained with an added bonus! Better than six steak knives, if you met someone at a networking event, and they found you on linked in or Facebook, it seemed perfectly ok for them to just add you to their mailing list, whether you like it or not.

Life was made easier as they could now contact you at anytime, anywhere and fill your feeds up with their business.

Facebook, for example, led to a plethora of business pages popping up and the phenomena of others just ‘popping in’ to ‘like your page’ and “oh, by the way, can you like mine too?”

That evolved into the annoying habit, thanks partly to changes in the way Facebook operated, of other business pages pretty much promoting their wares to your followers. Many had even forgone the manners of prefacing the ‘sharing’ with  a “Hi, just liking your page”.

It became a free-for-all, otherwise known as “Spam”.

This is a great way to get other businesses to not only delete your post, and maybe block you but also to ensure they never want to do business with you again.

If you really do want to network, work with this business, cross promote or whatever, then play nice:

  1. Have a really good look at the page; are your businesses complimentary? CAN they work together? Do you have a similar target market who have similar values and wants to your target market?
  2. Have they indicated anywhere that your type of business is something they would promote or work with? Or the reverse, that they won’t?
  3. Engage in conversation, reply to status updates, share pictures and blog posts with the community or your page. This will also give you an idea of how well your likers respond to this page/business.
  4. Don’t spam or promote your stuff on their pages, unless there is an opportunity that fits in seamlessly. Even then, be subtle about it.
  5. Once you’ve established a decent connection, then approach the page admin – ask what THEY want out of a relationship with you and open up discussion.
  6. The same applies to online forums and blogs. Forum and blog owners HATE when you come along and post links on their forums or blogs.

Look at it this way; they’ve spend ages building a website and community, have worked long, hard hours and you come along and, essentially, advertise for free. And without asking!

Often, they’ll have their own advertisers, who get very cross when someone who hasn’t paid for the privilege in one way or another is plastering their own business all over the place.

It’s a great way to get yourself ticked off the “Work With This Person” list.

Written by Amanda Cox (aka Mad Cow) founder of online parent support and resource website Real Mums, writer, speaker and business owner of 15 years or more. NOT a ‘social media expert’ she has been around for quite a bit and seen lots of craziness on and off social media.




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