It's Harvest Time for Networking and Tomatoes by Beth Kanter
This week I am an online mentor on the topic of "Effective Online Networking" as part of the Networking for Success project at the the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre. The project will teach women how to use Web 2.0 tools and other ICTs to effectively develop and advance their work. Participants are learning how to use these tools to initiate and manage projects; as well as identify networking opportunities with others.
I started with a post with some thoughts about effective online networking. (And posted an invitation to others to participate on my blog). Oreoluwa Somolu, Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, left a thoughtful comment.
I like how you point out that it’s the quality of the relationships that you build online that matters, not just how many people you meet. An analogy is when we attend conferences or other ‘live’ networking events and focus on collecting as many business cards as possible, without taking the time to have proper conversations with people (as well as you can in those settings) and following-up with them afterwards.
It made me think of that photo I took to illustrate this post. That was almost two years ago. I had this huge pile of business cards after a year of attending conferences. I was also contemplating the first Boston PodCamp and improving my networking techniques.
I play “shuffle up and email” often. I take my cards from past events, and then send someone a random email (hopefully with value to what they’re doing, and mindful of what I’d want to do with them). The email is a “ping,” a chance to show them that I’m still out there, and that we might still have business. Further, it might just be the thing that gets someone thinking of me for another opportunity.
I also thought of a post by Marnie Webb called "Networking Your Networked Network" where she points to a ChangeThis Manifesto called "Care and Feeding of Your Network" written by Bob Allard, an entrepreneur developing software tools for connectors and businesspeople (www.youshouldmeet.com / www.referralmonitor.com) He offers five steps to greatness in Networking:
1. Know what he/she is working on.
2. Think creatively about how to help
3. Make a meaningful introduction
4. Follow up
5. Keep your network informed about what you are working on.
Connie Bensen left a comment on the other post with some more networking tips. Connie's writing about networking is some of the best I've read!
This brings me back to the rest of Ore's comment:
I’ve met many people online, with some who I met only years later and who have now become good friends and important collaborators, who have helped me in some way professionally.But this would probably not have happened if I was so focused on what I would get out of the relationship and not bothering to nurture it properly.
Ore is talking about reciprocity which is an important principle in the nurturing of relationships in your network. How do you nurture relationships? How do you this effectively (dare I use the word efficiently) if you are doing this on behalf of your nonprofit?