There’s been a post stewing about in my head for the last several days. It’s about the importance of keeping your virtual “bank” full when it comes to networking and influence. As someone that has been focused on networking well before the idea of social networks came into vogue, I can tell you that this is easier said than done, mainly because it requires a lot of work and the frequent subjugation of one’s ego.
The impetus for this post came while I was out for a walk last week. This is usually my quiet time where I can catch up on tweets, e-mails etc. away from the office, my wonderful wife and three beautiful children. During my walk, I listen to music, take in some fresh air and get a little exercise. On this particular day as I was going through my friends tweets and realized that there was a certain influential friend of mine (let’s call him Jim Jones) who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I didn’t need anything from him but wanted to just say “hi” since it had been a few months since we last connected.
As one that dislikes using the phone whenever possible, sometimes there is no substitute for it, especially when you haven’t connected with someone in a while. To that end, I thought the best way to connect with “Jim” was via a phone call. Unfortunately, with Jim’s popularity has come stalking and bothering so Jim had to change his number. After realizing that I would not be speaking with Jim via the phone that very pleasant morning, I had the following exchange with Jim via direct message on Twitter:
bruthah! Was out for a walk this AM and thought I’d call just to say “hi.” realized the # I have has been disconnected ;(
444-444-1234. Sorry to miss you. I’m in the LA this week, so won’t answer just yet. : )
oh, no worries. like i said, i just saw you tweeting and thought, “I haven’t talked to Jim in a while.” Hope you’re well.
I haven’t talked to you in too long. You’re lovely. : )
same back atcha sunshine!
The purpose of showing you this exchange is not to make you throw up in your mouth but to demonstrate the importance of my approach. I wanted Jim to know that this was strictly a friendly call and that I wasn’t asking for anything. While “Jim” is a household name in the world of marketing and social media, I take this same approach with my entire network. In fact, I love nothing better than to randomly pull out a tweet or blogpost from someone in my network and re-tweet (repost on Twitter) or comment on their work. I say this not to come off as an egotistical prick but to demonstrate the fact that people with big or small networks appreciate this unconditional “love.”
Building on this topic, a recent post by the lovely and eloquent, Amber Naslund, got me thinking more about the real definition of “influence”which is often one of the outcomes that people seek via the process of networking. In her post, Amber states…
To me, influence isn’t about popularity. Or even reach. It’s about the trust, authority, and presence to drive relevant actions within your community that create something of substance. That last bit is key.
Yup. Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s about “trust, authority and presence” which to me reinforces why so many many companies have a hard time with social media. They don’t want to take the time to build trust or presence even though they might already have some authority in their particular area of expertise. Like an awkward teenage boy on his first date, the company forgets that relationship building doesn’t happen in one evening and that the physical (read: good) part comes only when “trust and authority” have been established. Unfortunately, too many of these encounters end with a “slap in the face” rather than a “goodnight kiss.”
For those of you who are new to the world of social, this may sound disheartening. But you have to start somewhere. And as a great example of that, I’ll point out my friend, Kelly Stonebock, who knew that she should be blogging but had until recently put it off up. While she’s only got four posts under her belt… she now has FOUR posts under her belt and is on her way to establishing credibility as a serious blogger/writer.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start networking. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the “trust, authority and presence” piece. Don’t worry, it’s never too late to get started.