Friday, December 19, 2008

Trade shows, networking and LinkedIn

What do these three things have in common? They are all about making positive, direct contact with people.

While I am, and probably always will be, the advocate for face-to-face contact (the first two), the third item is growing in both popularity and effectiveness. But I have learned, as with the other two, these methods work best when they are a part of a larger campaign.

Let's skip right to LinkedIn: I learned a valuable lesson just yesterday on it's power and usefulness. For those of you not familiar, it is, in quick summary, the social media choice for B2B types, a Facebook for business people. Within in it, you post a profile and make connections. With those connections you can ask for and make recommendations and introductions. And here is where it gets complicated for some.

Making a recommendation or introduction is a priviledge. As a connection pointed out to me, we are the guardians of our relationships and play a role of "trusted advisor". In other words, don't go willy-nilly connecting or recommending people you just met. This isn't an electronic bar scene where one is out to score, but rather an extension of the trade show floor where you either start a conversation (or relationship) or take another step in the process. Don't abuse what you have been trusted with.

Lesson Learned: place value on the relationships you have and are developing and respect, not abuse, those that have entrusted you.


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