Blogmaster’s note: Savvy, cerebral Shai Franklin and I met years ago and I am delighted to be back in touch with him. I recently helped him with his LinkedIn profile and he will coach me in Twitter, an even exchange, plus with a bonus of this guest blog piece, So lucky us!
When I first jumped into social media and marketing a dozen years ago, the buzzword was “WOM” – word-of-mouth marketing. WOM is a strategy for getting people online to talk up your brand with their connections and followers, who then pass it on to theirs, leading to viral promotion or at least a solid base of customers.
My second reaction, after the fascination, was to notice the resemblance to an old-fashioned version of WOM: Word of mouth, performed by real people actually talking to each other without devices or flatscreens in the way. That’s what I consider “next level” networking.
Of course, my primary objective on any platform is to build my brand and eventually reach those people who will pay me, provide a service, inspire and enlighten and empower me, or lead me to others who will.
As much as I love to have that rare tweet get 1,000 “likes”, the nature of my business model is focused far more on quality than on quantity. If I have 5-10 serious clients at any one time, then business is good…though I can always handle more! And as much as I enjoy large-audience discussions, my ideal learning and brainstorming format is in small groups with individuals who are fully engaged and included.
And if they’re like me, these old or new contacts don’t need a whole pitch as to why we should meet. We enjoy the exploration and discovery, the serendipity and creative interaction, and walking away with a transformed outlook that shatters whatever agenda we came in with.
With 2,000+ worthy LinkedIn connections, face-to-face networking could theoretically become a 24/7 occupation all by itself. In reality, timing and mutual interests line up just enough to give me one or two rewarding meetups a week, which is perfect. These days, though, that means either Zoom or Skype.
Even from home, I still try to have a cup of coffee already poured or my new French press brewing on the desk, and – depending on the hour – a snifter filled with something sharper. That’s not because I’m addicted to caffeine or alcohol, it’s because I value the “social” in social media; I miss the physical hangout.
I can easily get absorbed for hours in online networking, posting, sharing, commenting, and learning. But I always keep an eye out for the next live, one-on-one interaction.
Sitting across the table in a café, ten seconds of silence doesn’t mean your internet froze – it’s gravy. As much as the in-person conversation is a means to other ends, it’s very much an end in itself. And LinkedIn is a great facilitator.