“LINKEDIN” - Your Best Online Networking Friend

I have been thinking for the past few years that social networking is for the kids. It is certainly not for real professionals, accountants for example. When it comes to business I have been constantly sceptical about Web 2.0 in spite of being signed up to Ecademy, Plaxo and YouTube. I am an exponent of real live networking, you know: the offline variety, the one where you actually meet fellow professionals. I felt I ought to join in but in essence I had no real expectation or conviction. But hold on…

Now I am sure that as young accountants making your way in a competitive world and with a world economy in a little turmoil you know how important it is to raise your profile. And I don’t have to tell you networking is one of the best ways to find jobs and make yourself visible to senior professionals that can boost your career. So if you accept the need to network then I am in a position to tell you why you need to use LinkedIn. If you accept networking is building relationships, which have three fundamental stages of knowing, liking and trusting, then I challenge every advocate of social networking by asking, ‘How can you create mutual liking and trust through the medium of the internet?’

Liking And Trusting
Once you’ve got to know someone it needs face-to-face contact to see if you like him or her. See the eyes, feel the firmness of the handshake and feel comfortable with the body language. It’s through these interactions that we can decide if we like someone to move the relationship forward. We build rapport through topics of common interest: listening carefully, showing genuine interest and finding out how the other person ticks. Trust takes time to build, so I have been saying this relationship building simply can’t be done online. If it’s only online how can you possibly get to really know someone?

LinkedIn – Your Best Online Friend
So why have I become an advocate of this particular online system? Simply because Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s founder, has come up with a process as near as makes no difference to real live networking. It’s hard enough keeping track of your own network but without LinkedIn you have no chance whatsoever of finding out who people in your network know. Just think if you were able to look at that senior partner’s little black book of contacts and ask to meet those key associates. For the past three to four years I have been shouting: ‘For it to really work you need to have built an offline relationship in the first instance’. Well I am now a convert. I now accept a relationship can be started online and then progressed. The information LinkedIn makes available and the use of testimonials substantially reduces the risk of building a relationship with the ‘wrong sort of person’.

The First Principle Of Networking
This relates to the Law of Reciprocity. When you have a generous spirit and a giving nature you will be rewarded. Go through life asking ‘How can I help you?’, ‘Who would be a good referral for you?’, ‘How I can support you?’ and you should have no hesitation in asking others to help you. Consider when you’re asked for help, how do you feel? Flattered, complimented, valued? This all contributes to the building of even stronger relationships.

To Be Continued …….