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Profitable Professional Networking With Blogs

Professional networking with blogs is something people do largely unconsciously. How can we use blogs for networking more intentionally?

In this series I have been revealing how blogs can boost your business. Most businesses at some point will do the drinks, nibbles, business cards and handshakes thing. You might note I am not super excited by networking meetups, I am just too shy. Maybe you feel the same but we put up with that side of things because networking truly has business value. Some of your best business connections come from casual or serious networking. Developing networking techniques can powerfully raise your game. Again, unsurprisingly, blogs boost your networking effectiveness too πŸ™‚

What is professional networking?

First we have to cover what professional networking is. I regard professional networking as making contacts. Some people would constrain the definition to meetings, possibly meetings intended to be “for networking” but I think if you do restrict yourself that way you are missing out on some of the best opportunities. Conferences, workshops, forums, etc, are all great places to make contacts, especially as sometimes at “networking events” people have their guard up. So for me professional networking is making contacts, where ever that might happen, that are mutually beneficial for both businesses.

Mutually beneficial?

I’m often accused of being a doormat, I give and give and yes, people do take advantage. At the same time I know people who “collect people”. You know the type, contacts are made for what they can gain without ever considering how the relationship might benefit the other party. Ideally a business contact should be mutually beneficial. Friends are nice, altruism is laudable, but this is business. This is one occasion where “do as I say not as I do” applies, my first instinct is how I might help the other person and I love making new friends but then nobody would ever accuse me of being a master networker πŸ™‚

Why network for business?

Cliché alert: “It’s not what you know, it’s who”. Very often it is not enough to be an expert, have brilliant ideas, perfect planning, you need other people to make something happen. Cruel, bleak, pessimistic, possibly paranoid, but true.

Business contacts can have an incredible affect on your business success. You learn, you profit and you grow. Just having people you can bounce ideas off is priceless.

How do blogs help your professional networking?

You don’t need a blog to do any sort of networking. But then you don’t need a business card. Networking is all about human relationships. People like to work with others who they make a connection with, blogs can help forge those connections.

You meet someone, you get their business card, you look up their website. Blah. Not learning much there. A blog, done right, however, now we are talking.

When networking online, in profiles, and in forums if you are allowed a signature, link to your blog.

Rather than just have your web address on your business card, have you considered having a link to your flagship content? With a powerful headline not only are they more likely to take a look, but it could be a great way to start a conversation and make an excellent first impression.

After a networking event you want people to remember you and to stay in touch. Getting them to subscribe via a powerfully attractive teaser article achieves both aims in a no pressure opt-in way.

We are online beasts now. A lot of people, in any walk of life, now Google someone before or after meeting them. Blogs are a perfect for being found and having something worthwhile presented to the sneaky Googler. Check out my search result, for example “Who is Chris Garrett“. After the initial contact is made they can keep track of you and touch base easily with RSS/email and comments.

When someone is looking for a potential business contact who will they turn to, someone who lists expertise as a bullet point or someone who has articles, case studies, ideas and tips that demonstrate expertise?

It’s all about ROI

Networking is time consuming so I only recommend sticking with a venue when it works, give it a good go and drop it if you can’t make progress. There are so many places to network you don’t have to stick with one that is not giving you any results.

There are famous networking sites and then there are just places people hang out online. Of course on your blog you can have a link to your networking site profiles. I don’t do this because as yet I have found no use for networking sites. All my networking contacts other than two or three have happened outside of the dedicated sites. Perhaps I am just not doing it right.

Contacts are just one return on your blogging, and a valuable one, but in the next part of this series I will look at the most pressing for many businesses, generating sales leads with your blog.

I need your help

These are my thoughts on professional networking but I know for a fact there are several people who read this blog who know far more than I do on this topic. Please do comment and share your tips, put me right, expand our knowledge πŸ™‚

Summary

Blogs can be a valuable tool in your networking arsenal. You can say things on your blog you might be shy to say in person, brag all you like πŸ™‚ Plus people can easily stay in touch via subscription so they are always up to date.

Contacts are extremely valuable but let’s not overlook your business bottom-line. In the next article we will tackle how to use blogs to generate sales leads.

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Comments

  1. @Chris – I remember going to a few Business Link events early on and always found the same people there. After a few events I figured it was a waste of time…not many network managers/admins go, so not much point me going.

  2. @Chris – I remember going to a few Business Link events early on and always found the same people there. After a few events I figured it was a waste of time…not many network managers/admins go, so not much point me going.

  3. Great series Chris. One of the problems about business blogs is that people are always posting that we should be doing it, but not how. I think it is the how that is missing. For that matter, I can’t even find a business blog out there (outside of the SEO/SEM community) that is any good so that I could induct the how from.

    Any pointers to great business blogs outside the SEO/SEM/marketing spheres?

  4. Great series Chris. One of the problems about business blogs is that people are always posting that we should be doing it, but not how. I think it is the how that is missing. For that matter, I can’t even find a business blog out there (outside of the SEO/SEM community) that is any good so that I could induct the how from.

    Any pointers to great business blogs outside the SEO/SEM/marketing spheres?

  5. Chris, this is definitely true. I’ve seen this happen on a friendship level, so I have no doubt that it works just as well on a business level.

    I actually have personal experience with this. I met someone at a party a few years ago and, instead of giving me a phone number or email address, she gave me the URL to her blog. Now, several years later, we’re very good friends who collaborate on a variety of artistic endeavors.

    In that sense, I suppose it’s actually an example of business networking as well, even though that wasn’t the original intent.

  6. Chris, this is definitely true. I’ve seen this happen on a friendship level, so I have no doubt that it works just as well on a business level.

    I actually have personal experience with this. I met someone at a party a few years ago and, instead of giving me a phone number or email address, she gave me the URL to her blog. Now, several years later, we’re very good friends who collaborate on a variety of artistic endeavors.

    In that sense, I suppose it’s actually an example of business networking as well, even though that wasn’t the original intent.

  7. Getting to know people through blogs is better than face-to-face meetings. With blogs you will read about their lives and the things that matter to them, whereas at face-to-face networking meetings you get only a few minutes for introductions and polite but light conversation.

  8. Getting to know people through blogs is better than face-to-face meetings. With blogs you will read about their lives and the things that matter to them, whereas at face-to-face networking meetings you get only a few minutes for introductions and polite but light conversation.

  9. I agree, blogging is a great way to network.

    You mention:
    “I’m often accused of being a doormat, I give and give and yes, people do take advantage.”

    You know, some very successfull people started of with a very simple concept… lets give value and let’s give selflessly. The success that came (in many cases) was incidental and maybe because of the sincerity of intentions. And this is definitely better than “collecting business cards”… it at least takes the world to a better level than what it was before.

  10. I agree, blogging is a great way to network.

    You mention:
    “I’m often accused of being a doormat, I give and give and yes, people do take advantage.”

    You know, some very successfull people started of with a very simple concept… lets give value and let’s give selflessly. The success that came (in many cases) was incidental and maybe because of the sincerity of intentions. And this is definitely better than “collecting business cards”… it at least takes the world to a better level than what it was before.

  11. Chris – Love the direction you’re going and I think you’re a better networker then you give yourself credit for. You said it yourself right here.

    “my first instinct is how I might help the other person”

    My view of networking is becoming the center of influence among people you want to associate with in terms of business. To become the center of influence to others, you’re going to have to earn that.

    For example; You Flagship Content is clearly your baby. If I were on a mission to become an important person to you, I would take it upon myself to get as many people as I possibly could downloading your ebook. As a normal human being you’re probably going to be appreciative and sooner or later may return the favor in some form or fashion.

    You’ve actually done that for me already by lending me tons of free and helpful advice. For that I’m grateful and am always watching for that opportunity to return the favor.

    The days of business cards and phony mixers is all but dead. Its about helping others drive their agendas first. You spend enough time doing that, the efforts will be returned.

  12. Chris – Love the direction you’re going and I think you’re a better networker then you give yourself credit for. You said it yourself right here.

    “my first instinct is how I might help the other person”

    My view of networking is becoming the center of influence among people you want to associate with in terms of business. To become the center of influence to others, you’re going to have to earn that.

    For example; You Flagship Content is clearly your baby. If I were on a mission to become an important person to you, I would take it upon myself to get as many people as I possibly could downloading your ebook. As a normal human being you’re probably going to be appreciative and sooner or later may return the favor in some form or fashion.

    You’ve actually done that for me already by lending me tons of free and helpful advice. For that I’m grateful and am always watching for that opportunity to return the favor.

    The days of business cards and phony mixers is all but dead. Its about helping others drive their agendas first. You spend enough time doing that, the efforts will be returned.

  13. This is terrific “flagship content” Chris. I signed up for your email to get the free e-book and have not regretted a single post. In fact I look forward to each new installment of this series, which I am using to make my own blog better.
    The blog is the new business card. The blog is the new resume.

    Thank you for your work.

  14. This is terrific “flagship content” Chris. I signed up for your email to get the free e-book and have not regretted a single post. In fact I look forward to each new installment of this series, which I am using to make my own blog better.
    The blog is the new business card. The blog is the new resume.

    Thank you for your work.

  15. Chris,

    From one doormat to another, I’m finding that the network that develops through blogging has so far been more authentic and 2-way than the mixer/social interactions of the past.

    Now I’m thinking:

    1. It takes effort, thought, and skill to blog.

    2. Most regular bloggers understand what another has probably gone through in order to turn out consistently good content.

    3. There’s a mutual respect as a result of that.

    4. As Linda and Marc commented, the face-to-face stuff was surface level and phony at times. Here we reveal more of ourselves through the passion in our writing than we do exchanging business cards.

    As for helping people: Why keep score? Even if the other person turns out to be a “user,” you’ve got the satisfaction of having helped; and, you always learn something about your topic or human nature when you extend yourself.

    Thanks for starting the conversation…

    Might it be

  16. Chris,

    From one doormat to another, I’m finding that the network that develops through blogging has so far been more authentic and 2-way than the mixer/social interactions of the past.

    Now I’m thinking:

    1. It takes effort, thought, and skill to blog.

    2. Most regular bloggers understand what another has probably gone through in order to turn out consistently good content.

    3. There’s a mutual respect as a result of that.

    4. As Linda and Marc commented, the face-to-face stuff was surface level and phony at times. Here we reveal more of ourselves through the passion in our writing than we do exchanging business cards.

    As for helping people: Why keep score? Even if the other person turns out to be a “user,” you’ve got the satisfaction of having helped; and, you always learn something about your topic or human nature when you extend yourself.

    Thanks for starting the conversation…

    Might it be

  17. Hi Chris,
    I have posted a post in my blog to complement your post. Please look at that:
    http://www.rajeshshakya.com/?p=3

    Regards
    Rajesh Shakya

  18. Hi Chris,
    I have posted a post in my blog to complement your post. Please look at that:
    http://www.rajeshshakya.com/?p=3

    Regards
    Rajesh Shakya

  19. Chris –
    Way to go. I echo most of the comments above. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  20. Chris –
    Way to go. I echo most of the comments above. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  21. Networking is often abandoned by people who see no immediate result. It takes time and practice. You can recognize the “users” pretty quickly once you network enough. I still take their card because I may need them some day. If not they get on my mailing list just the same.
    The use of a blog as a way to keep them connected to you has many benefits. They can get to know you better with less pressure. You can demonstrate your expertise (or lack) in a mode that lets you speak first. You have more control over the conversation in some regards.
    The thing to remember is that blogging is just another way of having a conversation in a very big room. People will hear you that you do not know. Be careful of what you say, the Internet keeps a record (Google cache).

    Love your post and newsletter Chris.
    Cheers

  22. Networking is often abandoned by people who see no immediate result. It takes time and practice. You can recognize the “users” pretty quickly once you network enough. I still take their card because I may need them some day. If not they get on my mailing list just the same.
    The use of a blog as a way to keep them connected to you has many benefits. They can get to know you better with less pressure. You can demonstrate your expertise (or lack) in a mode that lets you speak first. You have more control over the conversation in some regards.
    The thing to remember is that blogging is just another way of having a conversation in a very big room. People will hear you that you do not know. Be careful of what you say, the Internet keeps a record (Google cache).

    Love your post and newsletter Chris.
    Cheers

  23. Chris – Excellent post. Just the term “networking” turns some people off. Blogging to network has become a real asset – more so than the old mixers we used to attend.

  24. Chris – Excellent post. Just the term “networking” turns some people off. Blogging to network has become a real asset – more so than the old mixers we used to attend.

  25. Thanks Chris for convincing me that maybe I don’t need a therapist.

    I’ve had a loooong career helping all my friends and coworkers retire early, and started to despair as I worried “does this only happen to me?”

    So next time you are in NYC I owe you a pint, and then you can get me one; by then hopefully we will have worked up the courage together to get someone else to pay for dinner πŸ™‚

    Great series, and great resource. Original, helpful, and meaningful FLAGSHIP content.

  26. Thanks Chris for convincing me that maybe I don’t need a therapist.

    I’ve had a loooong career helping all my friends and coworkers retire early, and started to despair as I worried “does this only happen to me?”

    So next time you are in NYC I owe you a pint, and then you can get me one; by then hopefully we will have worked up the courage together to get someone else to pay for dinner πŸ™‚

    Great series, and great resource. Original, helpful, and meaningful FLAGSHIP content.

  27. Thanks guys, all these comments while I was distracted, i’m humbled πŸ™‚

    It does seem that mixers are not as compelling as they once were made out to be – I certainly never felt that compelled in the first place πŸ˜‰

    @Jack – I am going to finish off the series with some examples

    @Mitch – deal πŸ™‚

    @everyone – let me know of any good examples of business blogs! πŸ™‚

  28. Thanks guys, all these comments while I was distracted, i’m humbled πŸ™‚

    It does seem that mixers are not as compelling as they once were made out to be – I certainly never felt that compelled in the first place πŸ˜‰

    @Jack – I am going to finish off the series with some examples

    @Mitch – deal πŸ™‚

    @everyone – let me know of any good examples of business blogs! πŸ™‚

  29. Good points Chris.

    I see blogging as an essential part of any business. It does give any potential interested parties a great reference point. I myself would be more inclined to contact a business if they had a blog as well as their website. Purely because I’ve been able to find out more about them and have furthered my understanding of them and their business.

    I’d like to recommend an online networking site http://www.bizmeed.com. With bizmeed you can actually have your own blog integrated on the site, instant message other businesses, form common interest groups and loads more. This is great for someone like me, as I can see relevant blogs all in one place and then directly contact them if I wish.

    I hear what you’re saying about online networking websites and I agree with you to a certain extent. On the whole I find them too complicated, not user-friendly and they don’t offer what I want from a networking website. But nor do I want to spend silly amounts of time each week in another networking event with the same people. Using a site like Bizmeed, I can network at times which suit me and without the cheap cheese sandwiches.

    At the risk of plugging Bizmeed too much, can I just point out one more great feature; you can promote your own offline events. So if you’ve built up a rapport with someone online, you can then continue this rapport at a face to face event/conference/seminar by inviting them through the site.

    Finally, it’s great to read a well informed blog on blogging. There’s a lot of nonsense floating around the web which people naively grab onto, what a pleasant surprise to find chrisg.com.

  30. Good points Chris.

    I see blogging as an essential part of any business. It does give any potential interested parties a great reference point. I myself would be more inclined to contact a business if they had a blog as well as their website. Purely because I’ve been able to find out more about them and have furthered my understanding of them and their business.

    I’d like to recommend an online networking site http://www.bizmeed.com. With bizmeed you can actually have your own blog integrated on the site, instant message other businesses, form common interest groups and loads more. This is great for someone like me, as I can see relevant blogs all in one place and then directly contact them if I wish.

    I hear what you’re saying about online networking websites and I agree with you to a certain extent. On the whole I find them too complicated, not user-friendly and they don’t offer what I want from a networking website. But nor do I want to spend silly amounts of time each week in another networking event with the same people. Using a site like Bizmeed, I can network at times which suit me and without the cheap cheese sandwiches.

    At the risk of plugging Bizmeed too much, can I just point out one more great feature; you can promote your own offline events. So if you’ve built up a rapport with someone online, you can then continue this rapport at a face to face event/conference/seminar by inviting them through the site.

    Finally, it’s great to read a well informed blog on blogging. There’s a lot of nonsense floating around the web which people naively grab onto, what a pleasant surprise to find chrisg.com.

  31. I agree with Jack there. I made some points on the latest posts too. Putting up just news with analysis ….those days are over.

    Making a network is really important. But then there has to hormony between them. Bloggers face the same competition anger as any normal person in life do. Gaining trust is very important and that too slowly. Trying to get into someone fast can uproot you before you can even approrach

  32. I agree with Jack there. I made some points on the latest posts too. Putting up just news with analysis ….those days are over.

    Making a network is really important. But then there has to hormony between them. Bloggers face the same competition anger as any normal person in life do. Gaining trust is very important and that too slowly. Trying to get into someone fast can uproot you before you can even approrach

  33. Maria Alonzo says:

    Valuable information Chris! Blogs can be a great way to network with others. And it’s a safe way to meet people and convey your opinions and knowledge.

  34. Maria Alonzo says:

    Valuable information Chris! Blogs can be a great way to network with others. And it’s a safe way to meet people and convey your opinions and knowledge.

  35. Excellent post! I completely agree with the view. It’s like what they say : “No man is an island”.

    I’m relatively new to the blogging community but when I look at the more successful bloggers they have a very good support network of other bloggers who help them get there.

    Just my 2 cents πŸ™‚

  36. Excellent post! I completely agree with the view. It’s like what they say : “No man is an island”.

    I’m relatively new to the blogging community but when I look at the more successful bloggers they have a very good support network of other bloggers who help them get there.

    Just my 2 cents πŸ™‚