Integrating Online and Offline Social Networking

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The more I've been hanging out on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, the more I've noticed that the typical user of these tools (myself included) are failing to use them as NETWORKING tools. I noticed this the other day when I realized that most of my tweats were little more than broadcasts.

In other words, I was doing what ordinarily makes me cringe when I see other marketers doing: Shouting out a one-way message with little thought of creating a conversation.

(Sigh) Will we/I never learn?

Social networking is about creating a conversation.

These remarkable new tools are wasted if we merely try to use them as new platforms from which to conduct old school marketing. The whole point of creating a list of "followers" or "friends" or "contacts," depending upon which social networking tool you are using, is to create a two-way dialogue with the people on your list.

All this leads me to the conclusion that we/I need to pull out some of the very best ideas on business networking from the pre-internet days, and put them into practice.

Case in point: One of my favorite business books of all time is Harvey MacKay's Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. It was written before we all had email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other social networking tools.

MacKay simply went about networking by being a friend in the traditional sense of the word, not a "friend" where we add a new person to our site with no knowledge of who this person is.

He developed a remarkable tool called the "MacKay 66" which was a checklist of 66 bits of information everyone of the salespeople who worked for him had to fill out about every buyer they called on.

The MacKay 66 had things like birthdates of not only the contact, but of his (they were mostly men in those days) wife and children. It also included things like what college the buyer attended or what his interests were.

But it was how MacKay and his people used this checklist that was so incredible. Not only did these buyers get birthday cards or calls, but so did his wife and children. If his alma mater was in the news, a newspaper clipping was mailed to him. If his team won (or lost) a big game, he got a clipping on that too.

MacKay's big lesson, of course, was not to just learn about a buyer per se, but about all your friends and business contacts. Keep up with them, send them useful information.

Modern Application: I have a client who is an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. I realize now as I am writing this, that I ought to go into Goole Alerts and have emails sent to me about deer hunting every day. And I should especially have alerts sent to me about his industry and things that might interest him.

His wife absolutely loves horses and they own two of them. She rides in equestrian events all over. Why am I not sending her information about her interests as well?

Well obviously, I have work to do, so I need to get to it.

In the next article, we will explore this idea of integrating your online and offline social networking more.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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