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Networking, iNetworking, What Is The First Rule?

Networking on the Internet is the same as networking in person, or is it? Let's take a conversational tour together on this topic.

At an in-person networking event you wouldn't just attend not to network. Or would you? Normally everyone is there for a purpose, even if they haven't totally defined that purpose, they have a vague idea why they are there. Wouldn't that work the same for iNetworking? Yep.

Yet...

Weekly I receive emails and phone calls how someone wants to connect with me in some way.

Yet...

They have no idea on what. No suggestions, no inklings, no possible thoughts, nada. I'm always baffled when I receive these. I don't have time to educate people because they surely do need it. A few emails even add their web site URL link or suggest that I visit their web site to learn what they do and "figure it out for them."

For the folks reading this who have done this and wondered why their email doesn't get a response or gets a quick response of "sounds great," or "you can sell my new product or become my affiliate if you'd like" -- knock, knock, anyone home up there. People have told me that when they receive get these responses back, it confuses them. Talk about confused, how about the person receiving them.

It's so much easier to either don't write or say what you really mean. Simply, say why you are writing, this is what you do, this is what I do, and here are some possibilities for us? You can even set this up in a signature file in Outlook and make it a quick send.

Everything is a mirror. If you want to iNetwork state who you are, what you offer, or give clues and ideas of possibilities. Don't place the burden on the receiver to figure it out.

This brings us to rule number one in iNetworking. Be prepared. Don't be the one that has a great service or product but doesn't know who the gatekeepers are or who the buyers and strategic partners are for your products or services. Gatekeepers are people that know your more of your buyers, strategic partners are people that you are going to do something joint and temporary with to provide better value for both your customers.

If you went to an in-person networking event you wouldn't forget your business cards, or would you? If you attended an in-person networking event would you not bring the flyers for your next workshop, not know the benefits of your product or service, or not know who is your ideal client. If you did, it would be a social event and not a networking event.

The same holds true with iNetworking. Have your business card set up for an easy email send, set a signature file in Outlook or whatever email software you use, have your workshop flyer in pdf (Adobe) format, in an auto responder, designed for a embedded text email and HTML email (embedded means not as an attachment but as the email itself). In other words, have all the same materials that you would create for an in-person networking event available for deliver via the Internet in multiple delivery formats.

Last week I was at the Women's Business Center networking breakfast event. A woman stood up and apologized for not having her workshop flyer and business cards. She forgot them on the kitchen counter. Not to be unkind but if this happens, turn your car around and go back home either to get the information or do something else more productive. I too have on occasion during my 20 years in business left things behind, it only took me once to attend and not have the necessary material and its embarrassment to learn to never do that again.

Making a pitch via email to someone that can be a possible gatekeeper, prospect, or strategic partner is important, if you don't have the time to put into a well written and clearly presented email, turn the car around and do it when you do have time. If you never seem to find the time, then look at your priorities, they sound a little off kilter to me.

I'm not saying you need everything perfect nor have all the answers but I am saying that you need to know what you want and say it.

iNetworking isn't any different than in-person networking in many respects. In both, you are building a relationship, it's just not in person, nor local, it's international in many cases. You wouldn't say in the first three minutes at an in-person networking event that you want them to be your affiliate, or would you?

iNetworking is about building relationships. I've developed some wonderful networking buddies on the Internet over the years and they watch my back and I theirs. It isn't all about sales. Yet, each of us knows we need to scratch each other's back. And we do. But not until after the initial time together.

Let's summarize these points for clarity. iNetworking is the same as in-person networking in that you need to have a clear intention or purpose for making contact, even if the reason is to get to know what each of you do. iNetworking works its magic best when it includes at least one phone call after the initial contact.

Since I write Internet articles, I set up many relationships with publishers and editors. I don't hesitate to write them. I compliment them on what they are doing right and sometimes give them an idea or two on what other sites are doing to support their writers. They are always grateful because they don't have the time to do this. And the relationship grows from there. I prefer to follow it up with a phone call or two. I learn about their challenges and I share the same.

It doesn't matter who calls whom, be ready with your spiel. What you do or provide and how you some possible working arrangements. There is a list of 100 by my phone. Allow time to iNetwork but look for people who are ready.

Don't make people guess. Spit it out clearly in your email, edit and edit again if need be. Sometimes I go through six or seven edits to make sure mine are clear. Give others the opportunity to network with you. Here's my challenge to you. Who can you reach out to at this exact moment and begin iNetworking? They are waiting to hear from you.

(C) Copyright, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.

Catherine Franz is an avid iNetworker. She's made many mistakes over the year and now sees others making the same mistakes. That is her mission in life, to share information that will help make the world a better place. For more: http://www.abundancecenter.com or Catherine's blog: http://abundance.blogs.com .

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