Oh good! So you believe in yourself. Fantastic.
Now you need to work up the balls to introduce yourself which is, for many, the hardest part.
Putting yourself out there is probably the most nerve wracking experience one can overcome, and it has a lot to do with that mental block we have in our minds that maybe we’re not good enough. Maybe we’re not worth getting to know. Maybe he or she will think I’m just another Joe Shmoe who can’t possibly add any value to what is probably their already overwhelming selection of personal contacts.
Your fear of rejection is entirely human, and every successful person has experienced this same fear on more than one occasion.
I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve confidently introduced myself to someone I’ve been hoping to meet, only to scamper away like a scared little mouse after realizing they want nothing to do with me. Not everyone will drop to their knees and thank the lord they found you. Who are you, after all? In the sea of people all vying for their attention, what could you possibly have to offer them?
It’s a simple case of supply and demand — You’ve got the supply of awesome, but if there’s no demand, your “awesome” is worthless.
It’s important that you give people a reason to want to know you. Not only so that they’ll feel a need to have you around, but also so you are able to overcome this feeling of low self worth you might be experiencing.
Fortunately, there is a form of networking that appeals to those of us who are too shy, lazy, and don’t actually want to meet anybody.
Enter: Step 2 of How to Network Effectively:
Adopt “Passive Networking”.
On a typical day, you may not want every single person you meet to feel that you are the most important person on the planet. In the case of passive networking, however, being seen as important, well established and interesting is one of the driving factors behind successfully sparking interest during the initial contact phase.
In this day and age, we are lucky to have plenty of networking tools available to us online where we can easily meet and impress new people. Provided we are using these tools correctly, we can even gain new contacts without having to lift a finger! For the second part of this series, I’ll be sharing how one might establish credibility via Internet tools in order to drive what I like to refer to as “passive networking”.
Facebook, for example, might only be used by some as a way to keep in touch with Mom and Dad or reunite with old friends. For those looking to network, however, Facebook can serve as the key platform for establishing credibility. The same goes for Twitter, YouTube, Google+, your personal website, and whatever other service online that you might be able to use to your advantage.
How do you use these online tools effectively?
It depends on what sort of fish you want to catch, of course.
Let’s aim for the bottom feeders first. These are the fish that you weren’t really aiming for, but happened to bite when your bait caught their eye.
For the casual Internet surfer looking for something interesting to zone out to online, the easiest way to grab their attention is with an effective user picture. In social media, this is the icon or photo that represents who you are across all of your feeds. People are going to be retweeting your updates with your user picture beside it, clicking on your icon to discover who you are, and recognizing your updates by that imagery alone.
You essentially want to appeal to the most basic of audiences in order to network passively.
Personally, I like to go with the “cute and adorable” Internet bait:
Other examples of user pictures that effectively appeal to different audiences (you can click on them to jump to their Twitter profiles):
Now, in the case of someone who is already well established and doesn’t quite need new friends or followers, an effective user picture is pretty much obsolete. They can get by on their fame alone and really have nothing to worry about when it comes to putting their “best face” forward.
For the rest of us, this is our branding tool.
For the rest of us, our user picture is our identifier.
So use something that appeals to the audience you hope to capture, and make sure it represents you.
First impressions are almost always everything.
Okay. So you’ve got your fancy new user picture and your networking tools are starting to shape up nicely! Now what?
Craft a strong Bio or About Me.
Again, I can not stress enough how important first impressions are. When someone happens upon your profile who is looking for something more than just a fascinating user picture, you want to establish credibility with what they find or read about you. For me, this means throwing all of my cards on the table (or at least hinting at being more than meets the eye).
Here’s my Twitter About Me:
The amazing thing about Twitter is that it forces us to shrink down all of the crap we want to say about ourselves and present it in a single shot. It’s like a resume — you want to cut out the “fluff” and only offer the most relevant information to your target audience.
For you, it is at this point where you’ve successfully baited your new potential contact and need to follow up with compelling content that backs up everything you’ve just said about yourself. For me, I leave a link to my blog — a clean URL that leads to a place where they can find out even more about me.
Essentially, I make it incredibly easy for people to stalk me online by not giving them an excuse to ignore me. I am constantly linking back and forth between my blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc (just like in this sentence) in order to keep people lost in my content and always with something new to read about me or devour.
In fact, with the proper tools, you can legitimately stay updated on what exactly is going on in my head or in my life at every moment of the day. Seriously.
Now, for the average Internet user looking to network online, you may not want to divulge quite as much information with the world. The principals, however, are basically the same.
Establish a presence on all forms of social media (this can be as simple as setting up an account just to make a post that links to everywhere else you are located online). Get used to the format of updating these various tools (make a few test posts here and there, or lurk other users on that same social network to see how they are using their own space). Then use these tools to offer unique content over several networks, all the while linking back and forth between the many mediums you use to deliver material.
Make it incredibly convenient for the average and lazy Internet user to find out more about you. Keep them lost in the complexity that is your Internet presence.
While part of this obviously tailors directly to your audience, a lot of this is also just good practice in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By connecting your various profiles across the web in some way, search engines like Google or Bing can better “crawl” your pages for information and shoot your links to the top of the search results. In this way, someone who might be searching for the phrase “How to Network Effectively” will bring up my blog, as well as all of the links that lead to this blog from other websites and platforms. Get it?
Make it easy for people to find you online.
Make it easy for search engines to connect your pages.
And after people find you on the Internet, make sure you immediately establish your credibility by making it impossible for them to miss any of your various accomplishments and bragging rights.
This is a form of passive networking that, once you have down, makes it incredibly easy for you to just sit back and continue doing your thing while your list of contacts grows itself!
In Part 3 of How to Network Effectively, we make the transition to offline networking (in person, hand shaking, baby kissing and phone number exchanging). Get excited, folks.
And for those of you who survived to the end of this entry, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Happy to help,
XOXO Cheri XOXO
PS. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of How to Network Effectively here.