As many of you would know, I’m an active networker, both online and offline. I love connecting with people, learning things, sharing my own knowledge and experience and helping others move forward with their businesses.
There are times when I come across people who don’t really seem to get what networking is about. For some it’s about how much business they can get, but they’re missing the other half of the equation – developing relationships and building a list of resources for their own businesses and for others they meet. After all, networking is about building relationships and often you will benefit in the long term, if you refer people you meet to others you know… even if you get no business out of that meeting in the first instance.
What amazes me is that people often leave their profiles online incomplete, and for that matter, their business cards too. Why not tell the whole story? Make it easy for people to get to know you and contact you.
On some business cards people don’t include a postal address, just an email address and perhaps a phone number. Sometimes not even a surname – just a first name. If you don’t have a postal address you can share and don’t want to give your home address, then perhaps a suburb is useful. Some clients need to know roughly where you are before considering whether to do business with you. And the more you can tell them about you, the better.
And on social and business networks online it’s important for people to be able to identify you. That means adding a photo and letting people get to know who you are. If you were meeting people face-to-face you wouldn’t hide your face. Well, you could try, but people would think you were weird and probably avoid you Online, if you’re in business, you need to make people feel comfortable with you, and especially with networks like LinkedIn, it’s important to complete your profile, share your past experience as this will validate what you are currently doing, and add your photo. Old contacts will remember and recognise you, new people will recognise you if they later meet you in person, and over time, people feel they’ve gotten to know you. Which is what relationship building is about. Using someone else’s image (like a famous person) or an animal or a cartoon really doesn’t cut it either. Let people see who you are as well as learn about the type of person you are through your profiles and contributions online. These will help you build relationships and grow your business, over time.
I know when I get people asking to connect with me via LinkedIn, if they have no image and only a small number of connections, I will ignore them. If they have an image, even with low connection numbers I will take the time to read their profile and consider their request. But no photo and that indicates to me they haven’t completed their profile and they’re not yet ready to network.