“Are you on Facebook? What’s your Twitter handle? Send me the link to your LinkedIn profile.”
Thousands of social network accounts are created every month. And a large percentage of those new networkers become easily frustrated because it doesn’t seem to be working for them. It’s what I like to call the “Field of Dreams” approach: if you build a profile, thousands of people will find you, become your friend, buying your products, offering you jobs, and anything else you need to become wildly successful.
If you’ve been toying around with social networking for a few months you know it’s not that simple. Before you write off social networking as a waste of time, consider these five reasons social networking isn’t working for you:
1. You Don’t Have Anything Interesting To Say
In this day and age things move fast. And information travels at light speed thanks to web and mobile technology. Are you providing outdated information? Talking about last year’s trends with no new insights and observations? Or are you offering a unique perspective based on your personal and professional experience?
This isn’t about creating everything from scratch, but it is about being able to offer more than rehashed content and links to your network. This doesn’t help you grow, nor does it help anyone else grow. True networking works because you bring a distinct flavor or brand to the party. With all the social networking opportunities and fellow networkers competing for my time – how are you going to capture my attention so I want to connect with you on a regular basis?
2. You Don’t Have A Clear Message About Who You Are
One thing that interests me when I search for people to connect with is they are clear about who they are, what they love, and what they do. Take the time to develop a social presence just like you would take the time to make sure your physical presence commands a certain level of attention in a live networking event.
In the beginning it may be a little sloppy – that’s to be expected when you are just learning. But you have to learn fast and make the transition from sloppy messaging and style to confident, savvy, smartly branded communication. If you find someone with a style you like – learn from them. I didn’t say stalk them or copy them. But do observe, take notes and find ways to let their savvy influence your own style.
3. You Don’t Have A Fan Club
People talk about people who are talked about. So how do you get people to talk about you? Start with a small group of friends or colleagues and become fans of each other. To do that, it means you have to invite your friends and colleagues to the party. Not only will you build up your list of contacts, but you get insight into who has connections to someone you may need to be introduced to.
Tip: Always create a smaller inner circle of people who are willing to promote each other’s content, events and ideas. This inner circle should also be willing to share insights and resources.
Once you’ve built that inner and outer layer of your network, become a fan of other people. Do some research, checking out profiles and connections of people that interest you and extend them an invitation to join your network. I guarantee the person on Facebook with 1,000+ friends didn’t get those friends by sitting around waiting for someone to discover their profile. Start with people who are in the same industry as you, or people who have joined the same sub-group you have.
4. You’re All Take And No Give
You’re all about your product, your service, or your group, and not enough about people and genuine connections. You are so focused on your product or service you forget the real reason people are looking for you is because they have a problem. Find out what it is. And if you don’t have an answer, refer them to someone or somewhere they can get help from. If you can’t refer the people in your network to resources and information, then you need to step up your game so you have something to contribute.
The social networking relationships I invest the most in are those that help me solve my problems whether or not they can sell me something. I avoid like the plague, the social networker who is out for the hard-sell from the gate because they need to make money.
5. You’re Looking For 15 Minutes Instead Of 60 Minutes
Despite the apparent fascination with having high numbers of connections, social networking is not merely a popularity contest. At first glance it might seem that way – take Twitter for example: Everyone wants to connect with Guy Kawasaki or Chris Brogan, or some other social media thought leader with thousands of followers. But at the end of the day your network is really about who you’ve helped and who has helped you, not who has linked to you.
If all you are concerned about is getting 1,000 friends or followers you miss the point. You are looking for 15 minutes of fame, and eventually you’ll get it. But then it will be over and you still won’t have the critical connections you need to make things happen. What you want is the 60 minutes interview: There’s a different level of depth and buzz associated with 60 minutes and that’s where you want to be.
Remember – at some point what’s hot has to cool down. The trick is to create cycles of 60 minute waves that keep you at the forefront, rather than 15 minute peaks that are over in a flash.
So, before you write off social networking, try approaching it with the five considerations listed in this article. And keep in mind nothing happens over night. Just like it takes time to build rapport in face-to face networking, it takes time, and sometimes more time to build a level of trust and genuine interest in someone.
If you are looking to build a network without investing the time to really connect with people then social networking probably isn’t for you. However, if you are ready to build relationships and willing to do the work, this list should help jump-start creating a valuable network.
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