Online Networking: Do I Hide From People Like You?

August 24, 2008

In a recent discussion on business networking, a few folk shared their opinions on what they liked and didn’t like. Tom of Delightful Work said he preferred online networking to structured events. And Monika of the Writers Manifesto and Ellen of Wilson’s Words and Pictures, both mentioned that they don’t like to “lick ass”.

I totally understand what they mean. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got to suck up to folk you’re not particularly keen on, in the hope of getting a bit of work and a few referrals. And for that reason, I tend only to network with people I like.

It’s good to get to know like minded people online, in your industry, with whom you can develop a trusting relationship. I find that far more rewarding than hanging out at some networking event, or golf club, with folk I don’t enjoy being with.

And the easiest we can do this, is by simply making connections with folk we want to connect with, without any assumptions of what they can do for us.

In fact, we should forget what people can do for us altogether. It’s far easier to cultivate genuine relationships, if we think about what we can do to help the other person, without any expectations of gaining something in return.

I get requests in my inbox everyday from folk I either don’t know at all, or people who’ve made just one comment on my blog, in the hope of getting my attention. They’re usually asking me to Stumble this, Digg this, review this, or whatever. And if they knew me at all, they’d probably know that I can’t Stumble anything, as I’ve been banned.

Sometimes the same people send requests everyday. And as you probably know, receiving daily requests to Stumble and Digg someone’s stuff is annoying enough when you actually know them. But when it comes from someone you don’t know at all, it’s even worse.

It’s not like I don’t like helping people – I do. But I’m a human being and like most other folk, I like people to get to know me, before asking me to do things for them. I don’t want to be someone’s social networking prostitute and I bet you don’t either.

Have you experienced any bad online business networking practices? Have you found yourself hiding from certain types of people?

Image Credit: M. Keefe

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