Again, I was with a bunch of friends via ZOOM recently, we were discussing the value of LinkedIn and similar online networking platforms.
It was more than curiosity that drove me. I understand that some folk view networking as a vessel for new leads while others look for learning, peer affinity. Networking fulfils different needs for everyone, even so, I asked the question:
‘How often do you post the benefits your company offer?’ You see, I’ve often wondered how many individuals actually reach out. I thought it was simple enough, ‘how often do you shout about your business?’
I followed up with another, more pointed question.
‘What do you bring to your network?’
There was a minute or so contemplation. Then came the description of their own services, the quality, the reach. The product range was mentioned, customer service, pricing, availability. Someone even suggested that years of experience was available to customers. Just a phone call away …”
I felt it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t satisfied, so I put the question another way: ‘
“Do you engage your network often?”
“Whenever I have something to offer, I’ll post.” came a reply …
“I leave the maintenance of our ‘social media’ to someone else.” said another …
“Occasionally, perhaps once or twice per year. We don’t like to ‘spam’ people.” and …
“I like the customer to come to me.” replied the optimist.
So, we finished our conversation and yes, I did admit that I don’t offer nearly enough information through my network.
Bear with me. I needed to respond to my colleagues …
‘Whenever I have something to offer, I’ll post?” It’s not ALL about the selly-sell. If we’re not conversing we’re not participating right? We’re not cultivating empathy.
“I leave the maintenance of our ‘social media’ to someone else.” As the business owner you should know what is offered to prospects, otherwise how can you plan for the future?
“Occasionally, perhaps once or twice per year. We don’t like to SPAM people?” If you don’t have enough confidence to see past the SPAM value, then will your prospect?
“I like the customer to come to me.” Hey, me too. The thing is, that new customer is not going to come to you, if they don ‘t know what you’ve got!
No wonder there are people in business ‘out there’ disillusioned with the value of online networking. It’s not enough to be simply a ‘member’ of a network, paid for or otherwise, especially during these times.
To be considered authoritive, engaging, forward thinking, the professional business needs to regularly reach-out, show and tell, set examples, tell stories. We need to earn the right to serve. It’s not called networking for nothing.