Connect Cooperatively through your social & old fashioned networks

When Bonnie Hohhof, SCIP’s editor of Competitive Intelligence Magazine asked me to write about social networking etiquette, I was totally overwhelmed since there is reams of information on this topic.  How could I make it meaningful to SCIP members?  I found my answer in Chris Brogan‘s blog entry of Jan. 27, 2009 entitled, “You’re All Doing It Wrong.”

I loved this post so much that I copied it below and invite you to check out all the comments that this short provocative post attracted, 111 as this post is published.

• “You follow too many people on Twitter.
• You don’t allow blog comments.
• You add people to LinkedIn that you don’t know very well.
• You have ads on your blog.
• You use partial RSS feeds.
• Your blog posts are too short (too long).
• You shoot really long videos and don’t edit.
• You don’t follow people back.
• You swear.
• You talk in LOLcat speak.
• You aren’t using FriendFeed.
• You are using FriendFeed.
• You push the same updates to every platform.
• You don’t use Creative Commons.

Guess what? We’re all doing it wrong. Because we’re all doing it our own way, and it’s not always going to match the way you think it works best.”

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People’s objectives in using social networks are very individual and are influenced by our gender, background, culture and Internet savvy.

In my field of competitive intelligence I notice there are two camps: those who want to find data about their competitors and don’t want to be found– mostly corporate managers and consultants who collect competitive data; and those who want to be found– management and research consultants looking for their next gig.  I notice many of my colleagues – I’m one of those shameless consultants — will only connect with people they know personally on LinkedIn and other networks.  I feel they are missing the opportunity for synchronicity to connect with people they would never meet except through connecting via strangers.  As we conduct cold calling to collect competitive intelligence, we often experience a similar synchronicity as one contact leads to another and another…the same thing happens in social networking when you connect with “strangers” if you are open to it.  Since you talk with so many people at one time through social networking the synchronicity is multiplied.

The point is with social networking, as with in-person networking you have to decide what works best for you based on your objectives for social networking, your ethics and philosophy and recognize that everyone you connect with has their own standards which might be different from yours.  Remember there is a person behind that electronic connection who has feelings in the same way that person has when you shake their hand physically.  Thus it takes time to build a successful social networking presence just like it does using the old fashioned way through meetings and phone calls.  Relationships take time to develop, and the best way to nourish them is through a real communication, such as a customized communication when you first connect and by being a generous giver.

At the end of the day, you create and tweak your brand and your personality through the various forms of connecting in cyberspace which includes social networks, blogs, your website, videos, podcasts, e-mails and text messages.  Just remember you can’t retract what you have written, and each communication leaves a permanent record in cyberspace.

Don’t forget that old fashioned marketing over the telephone, in-person meetings and personal notes still work too.  In fact I find they work great since so many have jumped into the social networking bandwaggon and have forgotten the value of personal connections the old fashioned way.  What’s been your experience with connecting on social networks versus traditional marketing? What works for you?

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