Networking in the connection economy

networking

networkingOnline, most people are still working in the industrial economy, not in the connection economy. In the industrial economy, media was used to broadcast ideas and information about a product or service. Media was a soapbox. In the connection economy, we are suppose to engage with each other online. It’s not easy. The connection economy takes more work and needs to have a personal connection. Only when that is done, we get rewarded (with a new client or referral).

In the words of Seth Godin:

A good job is largely anonymous and forgotten (but still important). A personal job, on the other hand, is humanized. It brings us closer together. It might not be remarkable, but it stands out as memorable because (however briefly) the recipient of the work was touched by someone else. Often, remarkable work is personal too, but personal might just be enough for today.

The revenue of networking is

Cash

Attention and Trust

Referral

Some networkers network for cash. They want to make a sale and they want to make it right there and then. This is very short term.

The second group are soft selling. They are looking for people who will do business some time in the near present or distant future when that person needs that product or service. This is a good approach.

But the best approach is one of mutual benefit – the referral. If networkers can reach the point of understanding and trust with each other that when someone they know is looking for a Realtor, a mobile website service provider, a graphic artist…they can say “Call this guy, he’ll take great care of you”, then you’ve helped your friend and you’ve helped your network connection. You’ve also helped yourself.

I was recently listing to a podcast about this very topic. It was by Seth Godin. If it were in print I’d link to it here. The guy is a marketing genius.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to our network group – the 365 Business Network. I think I’m naive. I start things with the best intentions but sometimes I don’t even know where I think I want them to go. In this case though I did, but I never explained it to the group. Now it’s likely too late.

Here’s what I wanted to happen:

We would create a venue online where entrepreneurs would share ideas about doing business in Kitchener Waterloo. Online we would get to know each other, build trust and familiarity so that when we met once a month we could continue the conversation in person.

Good idea? Maybe.

Will it work? Likely not.

Perhaps it was the online venue. Most people don’t spend very much time on Linked In.

Here’s another related thought. Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

If you’re a freelancer, your networking style is for cash or attention and trust. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re working for referral. Entrepreneurs are great at getting people to work for them. Freelancers work for themselves.

Here’s some questions:

If you were to go on holidays for a month, could your business continue without you?

Who do you have working for you?

Are you effectively networking?

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