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Networking etiquette

When you first start networking online, you will find yourself spending too much time answering posts on boards, posting comments on guest books and trying to help people connect. You have to limit your time. Your have to be organized. Make a schedule for yourself. Keep yourself to it, visiting the networking pages only on the days and hours that are reserved for online networking.

There are many networking sites out there. It is hard to make a choice, but once you check them out, you will see which one fits your needs. It happens to often that people cancel out a site after a few month just because it is not the site they feel comfortable with. Or you find the site is too much geared towards plain advertising.

Message boards and networking sites are different. A site that is strictly a message board is different from a networking site, because it does not offer you a home page on which you can fill out your own profile. It is only used for exchanging messages. You will however have the chance to introduce yourself in the ‘Introductions’ section. Networking sites have a profile page. This page can usually be tweaked so it reflects you in colors, font, etc. The advantage is that you have a permanent ‘advertisement’ for yourself and your business.

On networking sites you will often get a message from people who are interested in networking with me and in most cases you have no idea who these people are. You don’t understand how anyone could believe that you would want to respond with a simple click on the ‘yes’ button to someone who hasn’t even taken the time to write you a little note.

What do you do in this situation situation? Is online networking etiquette any different than face-to-face networking?

One difference between online networking and face-to-face networking is that you immediately know if you ‘click’ with someone in face-to-face networking. As opposed to online networking, where (most of the time) you do not get the ‘feel’ of the person you are talking to right away. Online networking takes times and requires networking etiquette. Just as you would be polite meeting someone for the first time face-to-face.
Local networking meetings AND online networking sites are not just about doing business. No one likes to have a sales pitch in the first few minutes of meeting you. They're about making connections and building relationships.

The first step in making a networking connection is to simply introduce yourself. Online that means post an introduction to the group and then start sending comments to the boards or threads, give your opinion on comments others have written and threats other people have posted and get comfortable with the group. Let them get comfortable with you too. Then start talking to the ones you feel you have a connection with or you could network with by email or PM.

A good way to find out if you have anything in common is to visit their homepage and read their entire page. Follow their links. Read their guest book entries and look at the list of networks they are affiliated with. This way you can find out if they might be the person you would enjoy having as a friend or business connection.

Then send them an email or private message. Do not JUST sent them a request to become friends, Connect with them. Make That way, when you do ask them to network with you, they will be more likely to respond ‘yes’.

Online or face-to-face networking, there is a right way and a wrong way. Take your smile with you and be open to sharing your thoughts and ideas. Networking is relationship building and making friends. Networking etiquette will help you get there.

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About the Author

Yvonne Bisk, Long Island Entrepreneurs Meetup Group
Levittown, NY 11756

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