The Smart Aleck networker

iStock_000007991360XSmall cross businesswomanDo you know that person at your networking meeting? The one with the loud voice, saying “Hey, look at me”? The one who is always telling everyone how great their business is as opposed to the competition? In fact, the person who always disses everyone else as being inferior?

We try to avoid those “networkers”, don’t we? We try to get as far as possible from them as we can. We can do without those boorish opinions, and we know they will never connect us or refer us because they are too busy thinking about themselves.

It is the same in the world of social media. There are people who claim superior knowledge not just in their line of business but in every aspect of of the world. They rubbish other users of Twitter, they give their opinion of those who hold a different view within their expertise, they show their political prejudices by rubbishing certain politicians, and they have those Smart Aleck comments about any and everyone who doesn’t agree with their bigoted views.

We avoid that sort of person when eating our bacon roll at the local breakfast meet, and thank goodness we can un-follow them on Twitter and un-friend them on Facebook once we see the cut of their jib.

I don’t reckon the Alecks and Alecksandras get much business from their networking, but they are too arrogant to understand why.

Don’t you avoid them like the plague?

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On-line networking when you don’t see the wood for the trees

Seeing the wood

The numbers

The other day I saw in my Twitter stream a conversation between two people I know moderately well, and like too. I don’t want to offend them if they read this, but one said she had increased her Klout score, and the other said he needed to work on raising his. Of course they might have been joking, but it isn’t always easy to detect irony in 140 characters.

Now, I am not going to have a go at Klout. It has its place in the world of social media, but really, it is a measure of activity. It is not a measure of useful activity. It cannot tell the difference. There are people with much lower scores than I have (yes, I looked :)) whom I consider more influential than I am.

Never mind the quality

What Klout mostly does is count the number of posts on Twitter and elsewhere, and presumably their algorithm looks at followers. However, what it doesn’t seem to do is distinguish between those who post only famous quotations, only sales messages, only stupid jokes etc. and those who have conversations and post useful information for followers.

People need people

To put it another way, on-line networking involves remembering you are talking to people who are your friends or may become friends. Perhaps you may recommend them and endorse their businesses as a happy customer. They may do the same for you if you deserve it. The most important aspect of any networking is being helpful, either in general or in particular. The more you help others, (and try to be altruistic) the more they may help you and if (no, when) you get business back, that’s all the better.

I am not quite saying Klout has no value. It may encourage you to drive your marketing as long as you are not making all the mistakes. Klout is really a game. On-line networking is not about the number of trees, but the actual wood and what is in it. It is not about the crowd but each individual person.

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Did you miss the boat?

Don’t rue your luck

Nr. St. Brelade, Jersey

Recently I have witnessed people publicly regretting that they did not manage to create a worldwide on-line network before Facebook appeared. Why didn’t their big idea grow the way Facebook did? The fact is that hard though they worked, and entrepreneurial though they were, Messrs Zuckerberg and co were very lucky in simply being in the right place at the right time. The right time was neither before they planted the seeds or afterwards, but exactly at the time they happened to start. That’s life.

Others may think “should we have sought venture capital rather than going alone? Should we have asked for support from this media person or that?” It doesn’t matter. The time has gone. We need to deal with the present.

We all make “mistakes” in our working lives. Sometimes we can benefit from them and learn. Just over ten years ago I left a comfortable but boring job with a large accountancy firm to go for what looked like a more interesting opportunity with a niche consultancy. I was warned against it by my then boss. “You will regret it” I was told. “They don’t treat their staff with respect.”

Being fired

Of course I didn’t pay attention. I took the new job. Thirteen months later I was given fifteen minutes to clear my desk when I had been under the impression that I was giving a presentation on the firm’s latest ideas to an invited audience in Jersey the following week. I had been puzzled that my flight and hotel accommodation had not been confirmed.

No regrets

My departure from that firm cast me into the world of self-employment. Do I regret joining that consultancy? No, it was the right decision at the time. I enjoyed the work hugely in that thirteen months. It boosted my confidence. I realised that I was very good at what I did, which I had begun to doubt having been starved of quality work at my previous employer.

We cannot dwell on what might have been. As independent business people the future is more in our hands. We may think sometimes “suppose I had accepted this offer or gone for that contract”. Such thoughts are a distraction and no more useful than wondering about how our lives might have been had we stayed with a past girlfriend or boyfriend.

Our past experience is how we learn to plan the future of our business. We just keep getting back in the saddle, and as business owners, at least the horse belongs to us.

Don’t look back. Does this ring a bell with you?

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Move with the times!

I was writing the other day about the business directories not really delivering for many small businesses. One of the reason for that is that our customer and clients tend to look elsewhere for their services. Compared with even five years ago, so many more people search on-line for the stuff they want, whether it is for a chimney sweep (yes, we employ one) or for an EBay offering or for a courier service or an accountant. There is always the possibility that even the on-line searchers will go with a recommendation but we have to be alive to the need to be found on-line when someone looks.

We were talking about this at a breakfast meeting, when our resident SEO expert commented how the search engines change their game all the time and he has to be on top of it as far as possible. This then brought us on to the changes even with Twitter and two of us who subscribe to Jim Connolly’s Marketing Blog remembered Jim’s comment concerning the person who wrote a paperback about Twitter which was bound to be instantly out-of-date. Incidentally I recommend you subscribe to Jim’s blog which is excellent. He is a top marketer.

It is most important to keep up with what is going on now. Traditional sales and marketing in print was indeed traditional for two hundred years or more, but now we all need to think on our feet and indeed listen to the buzz of the internet. Otherwise the business world will leave us trailing behind, and that means all of us including the dress shop and the hardware store.

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