Remember when business networking meant attending corporate galas, Chamber of Commerce luncheons, or industry trade shows? Things were simple then. To build a brand, gain market recognition and establish a business image, company representatives used face to face communications, word of mouth and social etiquette. The principles were simple; engage potential business contacts to give them an opportunity to know a particular business, like the people who represented it and come to trust those contacts enough to do business together.
In today’s social media climate, those principles remain the same. Only the delivery method has changed. Instead of a polite conversation over hor d’oerves at a business networking event at The Chamber, business contacts chat via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Instead of swapping business cards at a corporate gala, executives exchange website links and send friend or connection requests. Instead of in-person introductions, business professionals peruse each others online network of friends, colleagues and business associates. Word of mouth flows via shared links, likes, and retweets.
While the technology involved and the delivery method may have changed, the basic principles remain. Naturally, those born into the Information Age speak the lingo, making social media networking for business sound far more complex. It can seem to those not immersed in it that an entirely new system of business etiquette has emerged. In truth, understanding the basic principles of social media networking is more about common sense than tech speak. One only has to learn to convert traditional network practices and protocol to a digital medium.
For a quick primer, a traditional request for referral or introduction is now a request to connect on a particular social media platform. Passing a business card is now a contact page or profile. Vouching for a colleague or introducing them to your network comes in the form of liking a fan page, sharing a website, suggesting a friend or retweeting a link. And as with traditional business networking, over self-promotion without offering help in return is considered taboo.
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