It’s Harvest Time for Networking and Tomatoes by Beth Kanter

This week I am an online mentor on the topic of “Effective Online Networking” as part of the Networking for Success project at the the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre. The project will teach women how to use Web 2.0 tools and other ICTs to effectively develop and advance their work. Participants are learning how to use these tools to initiate and manage projects; as well as identify networking opportunities with others.

I started with a post with some thoughts about effective online networking. (And posted an invitation to others to participate on my blog). Oreoluwa Somolu, Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, left a thoughtful comment.

“I like how you point out that it’s the quality of the relationships that you build online that matters, not just how many people you meet.An analogy is when we attend conferences or other ‘live’ networking events and focus on collecting as many business cards as possible, without taking the time to have proper conversations with people (as well as you can in those settings) and following-up with them afterwards.”

As with face-to-face interactions, there are grooming exercises to be done online. What these new tools do is make it easier for all of us to do a little grooming every so often, without a large expenditure of time.

And finding creative uses of these tools is always important. Such as this:

Chris Brogan shared some excellent post conference networking hacks. I particularly liked this little trick:

“I play “shuffle up and email” often. I take my cards from past events, and then send someone a random email (hopefully with value to what they’re doing, and mindful of what I’d want to do with them). The email is a “ping,” a chance to show them that I’m still out there, and that we might still have business. Further, it might just be the thing that gets someone thinking of me for another opportunity.”

Thinking of email as a ping is a useful idea. Just as salespeople use ticklers to remind them to contact people, this can be used online by anyone. Perhaps we need a little widget in our email that will randomly pick out name, along with some information, and remind us to send an email.

Social grooming is something we all like to do in person. Just think about including it in your online presence. Lots of people love an email out of the blue and it helps maintain a link, as well as further information flow. It is the weak ties that often lead to the most innovative solutions.

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