I write with “concern” about the effects of social media networking and its impact on our respective digital presence. Business and commercial networking have had their roots ever since businesses started commercial operations. However in recent times, either due to ignorance or sheer peer pressure, social media networking has become a numbers game and it is becoming reprehensible.
I recall early 80’s when networking used to take place in social gatherings. It was an acceptable norm to exchange business cards and share individual business expertise/ offerings. Times were simpler. Competition within similar industries was rare and almost non-existent.
90’s brought the evolution of business networking. Seminars, conferences, Industry meetings. Social gatherings were no more breeding grounds for business networking. In fact, it was scorned upon, when someone flashed their business cards at a social gathering – unless of course if it was asked for.
In the 2000’s social media portals like LinkedIn were not so popular. Most business executives were opposed to publishing their professional profiles on LinkedIn. It was still the time for Seminars, Conferences and meetings. Strangely enough ‘breakfast Networking Meetings’ were becoming popular. Almost every large technology vendor and / or Enterprise was hosting such events and it was a good breeding ground for networking and business conversations.
2010’s saw a decline in such activities. Money was scarce and organisations were not investing as much as they had in the past decade. FBT was another impediment that stopped the breakfast speed networking. By this time LinkedIn had established itself as a de-facto commercial social networking portal – with over 500 million active users currently. We saw almost 90% professional executives vying for a spot, on LinkedIn.
The advent of working behind the screen has made LinkedIn users bold, brash and at times intrusive. What used to be a gentle tug, has now become an aggressive push to sell. Every one wants to connect with people who are in a position of authority. As soon as they get connected with a person of authority, they assume, they have acquired a ticket to instantaneously sell their products/ services to the poor person who has accepted their invitation.
This brings me back to my opening comment – “concern”. I am not sure if you are still reading this. If yes, whether you are sympathising with me or whether you are the one hounding me for my business. If you are sympathetic, please ensure we dissuade these hard hitting, KPI breathing connection mongers. If you are a hound after sales/ revenues, please take lessons in Sales 101. The world is changing, and “if the person in authority needs your services” he/she will reach out to you – you just need to be in their peripheral vision.
Some tips on social media networking:
- Connect with other people, for sure. Please give them reasons why you would want to connect with them.
- Spend some time researching people you may want to connect – why do you want to connect? what benefits can they make to your network/ professional lives? Networking is not always a one-way street.
- Once connected, please do not start your barrage of emails and constant sales pitches.
- Please always ask, if it is OK for the recipient to receive sales collateral from you.