Several hundred years ago Ben Franklin contemplated a revolutionary business concept: to gather people together on a regular basis to share ideas and help each other boost business. Little did he know that his idea would evolve into a field of study embraced by legions of businesspeople centuries later: networking.
Certainly over those next hundred years, networking evolved in myriad ways. But with the advent of and dependence on the Internet, networking has now taken a turn to the on-ramp of the information superhighway. And businesspeople are starting to realize that attending meetings, schmoozing with potential clients and creating connections at conventions and trade shows are only the beginning.
Now the time has come for a new kind of networking: internetworking.
The definition of networking is the development and maintenance of mutually valuable relationships. Therefore this new term, internetworking, can be defined as development and maintenance of mutually valuable relationships online.
In fact, The Federal Bureau of Labor recently indicated that 70% of new business comes from some form of networking. So the real question is: how much of your 70% will come from internetworking?
Here's a great tip...
Google is the perfect portal to discover not only where you stand, but where other business people stand. Part of internetworking is connecting with other people in your industry – or complimentary industries – with whom you can develop mutually valuable relationships.
Let’s say you sell promotional products. Why not take 30 minutes a week to research who else works in the same field? Here are some suggestions for search terms (make certain to use the quotations):
When you search your industry, job or profession in this manner, you will discover every website, link, article, and reference to it on the web! What’s more, your search results will transcend geographical boundaries and reach valuable contacts you never could have met at your local Chamber meeting.
And these people would be perfect additions to your network. But you do have to take initiative to extend your virtual handshake, as Scott Allen says. So, no matter what industry you’re in, here’s what to do next:
1) Review someone’s website or article from your search
2) Drop him an email
3) In the letter, tell him how you came across his information, introduce yourself, and why the two of you should connect with each other. Explain how important networking relationships are to business, and that you’d like to be able to help him by sharing ideas and brainstorming and offering resources and recommendations.
Not every person will respond. But most professionals will be willing to, at the least, check out your site and get to know you a little better so they can expand their network too. And you never know: the one person that you email could change everything!
Believe me, it happens. Last year I randomly emailed Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, to speak highly of his work. He saw my website on my email signature, then decided to post a link to my website on his blog. That link resulted in 70,000 hits every day for a week, the birth of this blog, several new valuable relationships and a tremendous increase in web presence!
Because with any kind of networking, you just never know.
(To read the entire article "Internetworking: 5 Ways to Develop Mutually Valuable Relationships Online, click here.)
LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do you "internetwork"?
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Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag