Marketing success in the world of online social networking is not easy. Whether you're trying to build a group or fan page in Facebook or wiggling your way through LinkedIn for more business contacts. The lack of personal connection adds a barrier, while the quantity quotient (how many connections do you have?) is still part of the game (for some). I spend of lot of time "networking" (whatever that means) in the real (physical) world too. I like meeting people, connecting and identifying what their needs are. For a long while, I was giving many public presentations on how to network effectively.
Here are my ten laws of real world social networking success:
1. Giver's Gain - go in with the mind-set of identifying what the person you're connecting with needs, and how you can help them accomplish this goal. The more you give, the more you get (as they say).
2. Make a plan - know where you're going, who's going to be there, and what you would say if you met them. Prior to attending any conference (whether I'm presenting or not), I make a "hit list" of the people I would most like to meet. I do my research on them, and try to learn everything I can about who they are and what makes them tick.
3. Spend your time with people you don't know - what's the point of going to an event and hanging out by the bar with the four people you've known forever? (unless you're just going to get drunk. If that's the case, stay away from networking events and me when I'm on the road).
4. Look good - now, a lot of people take exception to this point, but what I'm saying is dress appropriately, do a breathe check, etc... If Unabomber Chic is the look of the group, then fine, but all too often I see people who really look out of place. I'm also not saying to be a sheep and follow everybody else, just know what the event is and how you should look to make a mark (and not be a goofball).
5. Remember the old saying, "you only get one chance to make a first impression." Make it count.
6. Business cards - have them, use them. Don't be the guy doing the "business card drop-off" (where you run from cluster to cluster of crowds handing out business cards like they are free samples of Rum) - use them intelligently. Always ask for the other person's card first and exchange. Not having them on you is a sign of disrespect and being unprepared (in my opinion).
7. Listen actively - remember that old saying, "God gave you two ears and one mouth - use them proportionately."
8. Introduce whoever you meet to others, and always welcome people into your circle of conversation. Networking is awkward for everyone - make it less awkward by taking the lead and inviting people on the sidelines to jump in the conversation game.
9. Smile and have good/positive body language. Looking tough, bored or better than others is not going to get you in the frame of mind you need to be to meet, connect and share.
10. Hold a dinner after the event. Invite 3-4 people to dinner afterwards. Don't ask me why this works, but it changes the dynamics. You know you'll be meeting up with certain others later and, for some reason, knowing I'm going for dinner after a networking event gets me primed to network more effectively.
So, why this post?
I've been thinking a lot about how Marketers can have more success in online social networks. I realized that these ten laws of real world social networking success applies just as much (if not more) to online social networks. Read through them again, and see if you can do the translations? (i.e. what is "looking good" in an online social network? Hint: it's your profile description).