Saturday, December 04, 2004

Networking Principles?

What Networking Principles?

Joining Ryze or Ecademy or LinkedIn does not make you a networker. You become a networker because of the things you do. Doing things takes time. Sadly for most of us TIME is our most valuable resource: it's your LIFE we are talking about. What are you going to do with your life? Why should you spend part of your LIFE in an online social network?

Effective networking expands your understanding, your thinking skills and your life opportunities. That's something you might want. But online networking is new and there are lots of very unreal ideas about the way to network and the supposed benefits.

Networking Theories: We are new to online networking, and most of the theories about the best way to do it are problematic. I don't personally subscribe to the idea the that more contacts the better, I choose to choose my contacts. That said, I'm not overly particular, you can't tell what qualities new people bring, so an element of randomness does enter who I choose to have as a friend or contact. I do not expect to make any sales directly from my network activities. That may happen, but not because I focused on that outcome and expected it to happen. I do try to find and join expert groups. I'm not active in them all, I don't have the time. I've become a member of too many interest groups. That tends to waste too much of my time, although when I write my own letters to such groups it can be personally involving, intensely interesting, often educational and sometimes even useful.

A Suggested Networking Method

Establish a Personal Profile: This profile should be easy to read, and interesting. 50 keywords as recommended by Ecademy, may be useful on your homepage in Ryze too. Photographs certainly help but they shouldn't be too large. Strive to be professional, but also seek to be a real person with interests and passions.

Be a proactive reader and responder: Join groups, clubs or networks on topics that interest you. Read that mail, at least read the best of it. The very best should be printed, read critically and you should feel free to hi-light it and to write your own notes on it. You learn when you DO things. This is easy when people say things that you agree with. However, take time to identify articulate people who put a good case for opinions you don't feel comfortable with, and try to understand what they say and why they say it. Be critical of course: you are responsible for what you feed your brain.

Find Good People: You should make a point of identifying the people who write quality opinions. Visit their homepage's, leave them messages of appreciation, perhaps at a later stage make them contacts or friends. As appropriate exchange personal messages with these people. Choose to associate with quality people. Whatever you do, remember to be a person, an associate, a friend, and not a salesman.

Use the Network to Stimulate Your Thinking: You are now involved in a network of thinking proactive people who are directing you to certain topics of mutual interest. From your own knowledge and experience you have a new and unique reaction to that. Take the time to put your own view into writing. That exercise is valuable to you, it structures your own thinking. Send your view to the network. Because you are writing for others you will more effort into making your points clear. You will be stimulated to put forward your best effort. It matters not one bit if anyone responds or not, you have gained because you made the effort. If your letter attracts constructive feedback all the better. Over time people will come to recognise you for the type of input you give.

Help Others; Be Useful: As H. Dean Hua said, "Trust is a high form of capital." One of the best ways to generate trust is to listen to other people and to respond to their needs. Be a reliable person. Act in a reasonable and constructive way. Offer assistance where it's required. Do you have some expertise? Can you offer some of that knowledge to other people in an accessible way that doesn't cost you a fortune in time. For me, that's why I maintain this blog. I have another blog for business purposes. This blog is one of my public service efforts. Readership is good. Other people pass on the address to their friends.

Being Strategically Strong: I worked in a previous employment for most of two years before people began to know about me. Face to face networking takes time too. You don't build a reputation overnight.

So it is online. I've been on Ryze for 14 months. I have not made the best use of my time because I didn't know what to do. Slowly my efforts have become more effective. I try to do the things above. I'm a member of far fewer Ryze networks than I could join, about 30 (Limit 100) but I do visit them all at least once a month. I do create new topics and discussions on one network or another at least once a week. I respond to a letter or two at least once a day. In addition I try to maintain the Veech Innovation Network, and occasionally this blog.

Look at my Public Ryze Guestbook. The sort of comments people choose to write, are partly a response to my reputation, and partly a response to how I've treated them as individuals. Over a long period of time those comments start to mean something, not only to me but to other people. It's easy to get noticed. It's more important to get noticed for the right reasons.

Slowly, things have begun to happen that I couldn't plan for. People have begun to approach me, often just asking for help, but often at the same time making me a reciprocal offer of help, or suggesting an opportunity for me, so I might be even more useful. When people approach you, you have increased options, you can deal from a position of strength. That doesn't place you in a position of power, more in a position of responsibility. As H. Dean Hua said, "Trust is a high form of capital". Trust is hard to earn and easily destroyed.

You learn by what you DO. Use your contact with your network to do more things, read, respond, write, think, be useful to other people.

Be Patient. The cream rises to the top of the milk. You can see that on Ryze too, over 2-3 years the people with much to offer distinguish themselves.

Veech Innovation Network

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