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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Why network for business?
ClichÃ© 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 🙂
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 🙂 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.