UPDATED: What are we actually seeking through our connections?

27/10/2009 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

I always enjoy reading the tweets of Thomas Power of Ecademy, not least of all because we are both strong advocates of social media and yet seen to have so many contrasting views on its value!

Thomas tweeted yesterday on something I found interesting and here is a transcript of our brief Twitter conversation (Thomas in the pink shirt, me in the Smart car!):

Thomas Power

it is #connectedness we are all seeking not #connections #ecademy #BlackStar

Ian Hendry@thomaspower Really? I see networking as a means to an end. I still have bills to pay!

Thomas Power

@WeCanDoBIZ no I really don’t think we are, at least not anymore, things have changed

Thomas followed this up by forwarding by via e-mail another comment he’d received: “Not sure I agree @4_Walls w/ @thomaspower thoughts on being connected. Surely it’s not @ numbers but quality of relationships?”

It’s a contentious point.  I don’t see the value in randomly picking up contacts left right and centre if you’re not doing something with them — and by “something” I mean a task other than leveraging from your connections connections to reach a new audience to your burgeoning list.

I’ve always said that networking is a means to an end.  A big database is useless unless you are doing something with it; and for most businesses this means cultivating those contacts into customers.  This, itself, involves doing something with those contacts rather than just being there and sharing thoughts; it means helping to create a need and position youself as a supplier to meet that need.

My view on social networking is the same as it is for website marketing: you coun’t pay bills with clicks or connections so keep focused on what keeps your business healthy.

But there are others that don’t share this view.

Please add your thoughts to this topic by adding a comment below.

UPDATED 28 Oct 2009: I’ve just received an interesting and relevant article from Jackie Groundsell at the 1230 Women’s Network on this topic.  I think Jackie would want me to quote her, so I will:

“There’s no getting away from the fact that face-2-face networking is an essential part of any business’s marketing strategy – businesses ignore that fact at your peril!

I suspect that Thomas Power’s recent statement ‘You should not have to look for work if you are well connected’ was set to cause discussion.  So let’s see.

As to large networks….   2 things here.  Firstly, time and effort generate a large worthwhile network.  How do you define ‘worthwhile’?  Well, that’s the thing…  In making contacts through networking you’re reaching out to a far greater network than the person you are talking to.  Who do they know?  And who do those contacts know?  and so on.  So you never really know who is ‘worthwhile’.  Or do you feel that you do?  Let me know.

Secondly, are we talking about meeting large groups of people at say a conference or exhibition?  My experience is that all ‘events’ are worthwhile.  It’s what you do with the contacts you make after the event which are important.

In answer to Thomas’s statement is he implying that we just wait for our contacts to knock on our door?  If so, then I would suggest that this is foolhardy.

All things worthwhile take effort, not least our businesses.  BUT if we are well connected with good networks ie contacts, then we have some tools to work with and we can continue to make the effort, maintain our contacts, arrange meetings to get work, grow our businesses.”

What does anyone else think?  Do you agree with Jackie?

If we speak specifcally about Thomas’s statement as Jackie describes above, it is tantamount to saying that you don’t need a sales team if you rmarketing is good.  This might be true ideallistically — I’m a ‘classicly trained’ sales professional who believes if you do your job well then you’ll create the need so people come to you rather than you have to ask them for the order.  But it still requires you to know they have a pain point or a developed need.  It isn’t just a case of  “build it and they will come”.

Why not share your thoughts below?

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CASE STUDY: Will Hawkins shares his secrets to keeping your business healthy HOW TO: view your customers Twitter stream from within your Social CRM

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