The Simple Psychology of Online Business Networking

Ever notice how businesses just don’t seem to *get it* online?  Strange, when it is really so simple.  Certainly not rocket science.  Networking online is about being social.  Period.  Plain and simple.

Many will argue with that premise, and I guarantee you that they’re wrong.

Even if your primary purpose for existing online is for business reasons, you need to be social.  Trust me.  It works.  All that other stuff is dreck (yes, that’s the technical term, the other term is not suitable for a PG rated blog).

Think of it this way, if you held a happy hour soiree for your business prospects, clients and office staff, you’d better have plenty of good food, booze (and a non-alcho alternative), plus a lot of interesting conversations going on.  The guy who stops by, business cards in hand, wearing a used car salesman suit – well let’s just say – he’s not going to be the life of the party and it’s doubtful he’ll make your guest list for future events (unless he’s the boss’s nephew, in which case you assign your assistant the task of babysitting him at all future gatherings).

Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

If you’re casting about for a role as the least successful networker online, by all means please adhere to the following:

  • Make no attempts to learn about the community in which you’ve established a profile, I mean why bother getting to know the neighborhood, you came to sell stuff!
  • Create an insular community of a few key minions influencers, best if you pay them, and interact only with them.
  • Follow no one.  Like even fewer.
  • Post about yourself, all of the time, at regular intervals, day in and day out, on and on, ad nauseum.
  • Post your location, at regular intervals, day in and day out, on and on, ad nauseum.
  • Alternatively, you can post quotes, every five minutes, 24/7.  Who doesn’t need a little inspiration?
  • Direct message any and every one who shows the slightest bit of interest in you, be sure to use a 100% canned message, those always work the best.
  • Share jokes so offensive that even Howard Stern would unfollow you.
  • Buy thousands of bot followers so you’ll look like you’re part of the community.
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous and special, hire yourself out as a guest speaker and give talks on The Successful Brand Online – Little Work, Great Reward.

Now, I’m not saying any ONE of these things is particularly bad in and of itself (although, I wouldn’t recommend them).  As a matter of fact, there are multitudes of businesses and “professionals” online doing exactly these things – and supposedly succeeding at it.

But if you want results, a true fan base, correlating sales or interest in your brand.  I’d suggest you think twice and try something a little more unique.  Be social.  The community (and I) will thank you!


The Simple Psychology of Your Social Networks

Facebook.  Are we friends or aren’t we?  Like a BFF, wondering if she’s been replaced, facebook connections (whether from real life or not) will run the deepest and be the most hurt if (more like when) you decide to “unfriend” them.  Those darned decisions, right?  It seemed like a good idea to “friend” your entire family… at the time.  Until you realize Cousin Sally shares TMI (too much information) and Aunt Betty is trying to “friend” all of your friends to sell them cactus juice from Sedona.  And, oh by the way, if you are “friends” with your boss, may the force be with you.

Twitter.  Don’t tread on me.  Your Twitter followers will expect that you pick a style and live with it.  Like, forever.  If you tweet about Bob Marley, Hipsters and Donald Trump’s hair this week.  Don’t expect to talk about existentialism, Requiems and Star Wars raves the next.  I’m just saying.  Pick a voice.  Embrace it and love it or the followers will be few and far between.

LinkedIn.  Otherwise known as Recruiters R Us.  A haven for job seekers and those who seek them.  And in a strange online recruiting meets Hunger Games kind of way, it’s addicting to have a profile.  If you feel so inclined, you can try and socialize with your network.  Let me know how that works out for ya!

Reddit.  Hardcore techs only need apply.  If you dream of uploading code to Source Forge, this is the place for you.   While the conversation is fun (usually) and informative (almost always), the core users of Reddit take their posting habits very (very) seriously.   Srsly.   Techie lite?   Speak only when spoken to…

YouTube.  Haven for mass, off-topic comments.  The premier video watching hangout for all generations online.  Loved by mass marketers, big brands, brass bands, and chart toppers.   The comments alone are enough to keep you entertained for weeks on end.  Fair warning: not for the faint of heart.

Google+.  The sleeper.  Like an indie movie that never got it’s day in the theatrical sun, G+ is the “quiet as it’s kept” go to space for early adopters.  It’s the one place where Silicon Valley celebs might actually +1 you (the equivalent of a virtual high 5).  And you won’t find Grandma lurking around the corner.  Subtle circles allow for less emotion over who’s following or un-friending whom.  You will find the most amazing real life photography around, G+ actually gives Tumblr a run for it’s money there.  It may not have the masses of a Facebook, the obsessive retweet or get lost atmosphere of Twitter, nor the see and be seen necessity of a LinkedIn, but Google+ is the least likely to leave you lying on a couch, arm over head, moaning about declining Klout scores.

That’s where you’ll find me, hanging out, relaxing after a long day of like, comment, tweet, blog, rinse, repeat…

Wait, you say, what about MySpace?   MySpace?!   What are you… a rockstar?

At What Point?

Life is tricky.  Decisions, even more so.  There are so many paths to choose from, so many forks in the road from decision to decision.  And for humanity, we’re saddled with a mind that not only can take in all the options around us, but can imagine the unseen, beyond what is now. Think Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.

Yet, I don’t want to have a debate about behavioral psychology just to reach a simple decision.  Today.

At what point do you make a decision final?  Where the little voice on your shoulder sits like Regis and questions intently “Final answer?”

Can we go back to the days of childhood, hanging on a moment, waiting for a consultation with the neighborhood Magic 8 ball?  Just ask and shake, don’t think…

Can we make life decisions, whether big, small, or indifferent, by consensus?  Throw a thought into the community pot and wait for the right decision to come out at the appropriate time?

As of June, 2012, there are 955 million active Facebook users.  500 million on TwitterPinterest comes in a strong third in terms of daily site visits, beating out LinkedIn before it could walk.

Are social networks courtesy of social media where we will find our answers?  The final frontier of extending ourselves as far as we can go without actually packing it up and finding a new planet?  Are we drawn to these multitudes of virtual connections so that we might gain insight, input, instincts from relative strangers?  Do we trust the global community more than we might trust our next door neighbors?

Decisions by virtual community.

Decisions by share, like, stumble, & tumble.

Decisions by circles, groups, networks, “friends”?

At some point, we have to return to thinking for ourselves.  Not being swayed too fully by the *crowd*.  Not being consumed too much by a *virtual* life.

At what point will we go back to original thought?

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