So you get it wrong!
Networking and social networking is all about quality and not quantity.
In their brilliant article, Networking Reconsidered, the authors go even further and explain that Networking is about genuine relationships where you exchange issues and real knowledge. And only time and trust will ensure this kind of relationship.
By building long term relationships and getting the trust of your contacts you will be able to develop collaborative work.
I know that I don’t share the philosophy of the LIONs (LInkedin Open Networkers) on linkedin but I don’t care.
There are 2 opposite networking strategies on the net:
1) You send connection requests without personal message to all the persons you are interested in and try to grow your network as fast as possible. You hand over your business card to as many people as you can during networking events and conferences and try to convert them into contacts. You ask people you don’t know some kind of help (as once Seth Godin once mentioned…he receives everyday emails from people asking for something).
The end result is a long trail of connections without a real commitment and real exchange. It is a mass connection competition.
And I don’t think it does work actually. I know some people who started as Lions and got back to the old status.
You don’t build genuine relationships that will give you both knowledge and trusted leads.
You can’t be recommended in that case. You barely met a small number of them. You accumulate and don’t follow up.
And as soon as you find a job (if you were looking for a job), you don’t maintain this network as obviously you don’t have anymore time to look after all these contacts. Your only goal was to find a job and generate business as soon as possible. No long term thinking at all!
2) You build your network organically with carefully crafted messages to potential connections, you use the network of your friends/contacts to gain new contacts asking for recommendations. You use twitter to poke people you could target and start commenting on their blogs. It is hard work and time consuming but it is the only way to get it!! You share and show that you are part of the game by participating.
You can rely on your network and have trusted relationships exchanging contacts/sales/tips and what the authors call tacit knowledge which is years of accumulated knowledge.
You can be a trust agent who grows a sustainable network which is strengthened over time and exchange, and even if you can’t meet with everybody online, you always try to send news/articles/messages.
To be a lot stereotypical, the networker of the 1st group is an extravert who does not listen and talk to everybody and the day after forgot who he talked to whereas the networker of the 2nd group is an introvert who listens and prepares his networking approach carefully (and I have nothing against the extraverts!!) and send an email the day after to thank the person for her time.
Everybody is looking for shortcuts to success and in the networking area, it is the same.
It is only time, hard work and smart ways of using technology that will allow you to develop an efficient network.
So yes quality over quantity! (and if you can have both, even better).
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