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    0 Replies Latest reply on Feb 9, 2009 6:40 PM by ReferralKey

    What kind of networker are you? The most important blog you

    ReferralKey Wayfarer
      It doesn't matter whether you're exchanging referrals on Referral Key or you're exchanging tips with other professionals on Bank of America,
      business networking websites are quickly becoming the standard for many
      professionals. Despite the incessant hype of every pundit and
      self-proclaimed middle-aged technocrat, not all networking is created

      Like nearly everything in life, there is a huge disparity between
      enthusiasts and experts. Simply put, think about how many people you
      know that are into football. Now think of how many people you know who
      are good at actually playing football. Networking isn't exempt from
      this reoccurring and universal illusion. There's a lot of cyber junk
      out there. The mainstream media, which is slow to pick up on online
      trends anyways, would have you believe there are at least 50 million
      power networkers out there making strategic alliances on the
      information super highway! This is a misleading concept. While there
      may be 50 million professionals taking up profile space online, only a
      small percentage of people, who are already talented at networking in
      the real world, will reap the benefits of online networking.

      I'd like to share a few stereotypes I've noticed in the online networking world.

      A. The Voyeur - Some network online as a form of entertainment,
      chatting with strangers and spying on estranged colleague's
      profile-pages to fill the gaps in their day. These people like to think
      of themselves as riding the wave of new social trends however, there is
      very little expectation for real-world benefits from their endeavors.
      These people make up the bulk of online networkers. They fall more on
      the all-consuming and rarely contribute meaningful content of their
      own. The effort is minimal therefore, the expectations should be too.
      To achieve this level of networking one merely needs to sign-up and
      start browsing.

      B. Professional-Professional Networkers- Then there are others who
      actively, share, discuss, and contribute to networking sites. These
      networkers are the heart and soul of the website, often fulfilling
      important roles such as group leaders, forum moderators, and content
      creators. These people's true reward for networking is in the act
      itself. In the virtual world they're king however, if you find yourself
      asking the question, "They are on this site all day, how do they get
      any work done?" the answer may simply be that "they don't". As exciting
      as technology is, we haven't been able to add more hours to the day.
      That means spend two hours networking online and something's got to
      give... hopefully it's not your business.

      C. The 500's - Know what it's like to have 500 close friends? I don't
      think anybody does either but some use business networking sites to
      develop a contact list that rivals the phonebook. These networkers will
      add just about anybody to their network, from the CEO of a company
      they've never heard of to their high school sweetheart's former dog
      -walker. The reality is that just because it says you are friends with
      someone on a webpage doesn't mean you have any juice. In fact, having
      so many contacts could make you a less effective networker. If I am
      looking for legal advice and I contact "Kevin" and tell him I am your
      acquaintance and he says, "Who the hell is that?", I might be better
      off knocking on doors than consulting your massive network. If having a
      massive contact list is your goal, grab some Joe and start clicking.

      D. The Promoter- Just like the 500, the Promoter has a huge cache of
      connections. Unfortunately, if you happen to be one of these damned
      connections, you mind as well make friends with a billboard. The
      Promoter will use any free space to shamelessly advertise everything
      from their resume to their cousin's real estate listings. They often
      clutter your homepage and inbox with poorly constructed messages like,
      "Hey, how have you been? By the way, did you know that Dubai is one of
      the fastest growing real estate markets..." . I think you get the point.

      Now before you get huffy or accuse me of being a
      "Professional-Professional Networker" remember, everyone falls into
      these unscientific but realistic stereotypes in one way or another.
      It's ok to occasionally browse a stranger's profile, but is there any
      other substance to your networking game?

      Many new-comers go through a phase of spending hours online without
      asking the fundamental question, "For what purpose am I networking
      online?" While they usually start off with incredible fervor, many
      newbies will swear by networking.... for about two weeks. When they get
      bored of flipping through other people's profiles they come to the
      realization that online networking is just an extension of real-world
      networking; requiring time, talent and dedication. This is perhaps the
      reason why the number of dormant profiles will always outnumber the

      With all of this skepticism let's not forget how powerful online
      networking can be. Because there are so many half-hearted online
      networkers out there, being good means an incredible advantage for the
      small but substantial group of talented networkers who strive everyday
      to perfect their art.

      In the Web 2.0 world, bloggers often avoid making absolute statements.
      Unfortunately, playing patty-cake with every reader's potential
      insecurities is not the most helpful thing for the community at large
      so you can quote me on this-

      "Before you network with a professional online, always call them up and
      let them know your game-plan. If you want to swap referrals as you come
      across clients who can use each other's services, let them know to
      accept your friend request. If this seems too frivolous or unnatural
      you should not be inviting that person in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      If you cannot think of professionals who you'd be comfortable calling
      and outlying an online networking strategy with, then you've got even
      more work ahead of you. Get out there in the real world and make some
      connections." - Christopher

      Thank goodness the initial hype of online networking is starting to
      taper as the late-comers begin to realize the reality of befriending
      500 strangers. Now that we have this new technology, let's combine it
      with what we already know and put it to good use.
      Online networking cannot replace the time-honored strategy of
      developing a tight-knit real-world network as much as the telephone did
      not replace good conversation.

      best, Chris of

      About Referral Key Launched in August 2007, Referral Key is a business
      networking utility that helps people manage their trusted referral
      relationships more effectively to increase sales, expand their
      professional network and differentiate themselves from their
      competition. Unlike other social or business networking sites that are
      focused on managing a vast number of professional contacts or have an
      asymmetrical benefit, Referral Key is a platform that encourages
      referrals to drive revenue and build stronger professional
      relationships. Anyone can sign up with Referral Key and interact with
      professionals they know in a trusted environment. Referral Key is a
      privately held company and is headquartered in Boston, MA.