Networking Or Land Of The Living Dead?

Debbie Barth

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A network is defined (Merriam-Webster) as a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (as friends or professional colleagues). People join networks in order to share common interests, ie hobbies, music, books, etc. Online professionals join networks to interact with other online professionals, share experiences, wisdom, and most of all. . . let's be honest. . . . to get the word out about them, their products/services and to create sales/make money. A zombie is defined (Merriam-Webster) as a person held to resemble the so-called walking dead. There is more than one definition found in credible dictionaries, but this one suits the purpose of this article perfectly.

By now my readers are wondering what the connection is between the two above, and where could I possibly be going. And thus, the following. . .

I, like many online business professionals, belong to several online marketing networks. I actually do my research and attempt to join only those marketing networks with the same core beliefs and standards and whose members are serious online business entrepreneurs and professionals. I then go in and set up my profile information, attach my picture, and hang up my shingles. . . . ok. . . . add my website links.

It takes but only a couple of days to realize that I am, once again, in a land with the "living dead".

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the networks, and the staff, of which I am a member. Nor am I referring to most of the esteemed members.

This writer simply has her own opinion of what networking is (or should be) all about. For example, I love it when other members drop by my profile page and leave a comment/sign my guestbook. I mean a real comment, like "hi, I'm from Texas, too. Dropped by your website and I think that we have real networking opportunities. . . . . . . ". Something along those lines. Often, however, someone will drop off an online card or cute graphic, and simply say "hi".

Quite frankly, I feel the same amount of emotion about that as I do when I go to my mail box and find a little plastic "thing-a-ma-jiggy" (with an advertisement inside) attached and dangling in the wind. Or say, that piece of paper just under your windshield wiper that you don't notice until you are actually driving down the road.

I also enjoy getting "friends requests", and being asked to join their groups, etc. However, I always wonder WHY after I discover that they haven't visited my websites, googled me, or really read my profile.

I mean, how do they REALLY know that I am not a *** Queen (imagine inviting one to your group and having her do an impromtu presentation for your group), or some whacko who slips out of his room at night and logs into the mental hospital's computer.

Hopefully, now I have your attention and will attempt to connect the two above definitions.

You don't have to join 100 networks to be successful, either. Again, do your research and pick just a few of the ones that are most compatible to you, your business, as well as your core belief and standards for doing business.

Why, because being a successful networking member requires participation from YOU. If you spread yourself too thin, then you are wasting your time setting up your profile, etc. It takes setting aside some time to read the bulletins, forum post/group posts. . . . . and responding. If the staff of the group asks for your participation in group meetings, etc. , try to be there. Bottom line, make your presence known. . . . . even better. . . .define your presence.

How do you define your presence? Simply by using the blogs (if your network provides you with one), posting to the forums, going to online meetings and letting the other members hear your comments and suggestions. Some networks will also allow you to do a presentation of your products and services. By all means, take advantage of it.

Now, back to some of my earlier comments. When you are browsing the network and dropping by different profiles, get to know the other member. After all, reading the profile should take less than a minute. And here is the biggie. . . . take the time to visit their website. Yep, it does take time and it may or may not be something that you are interested in, but how do you know if you don't stop by? After all, why did YOU put up the links to your website on your profile page?

Keep in mind that most webmasters have the necessary tools in their back offices and knows who dropped by their website and even when. This writer has to believe that most people appreciate members who take the time to visit their website and are more likely to actually click on the corresponding website as well.

This writer believes that when we join networks for marketing purposes, the networking part isn't really about YOU as much as it is THEM. And this writer believes that there are two kinds of networkers; those who actively participate and takes an interest in the other members, and those who move in a zombie-like state, moving from one profile page to another, requesting friends, leaving cards, sending advertisements in messages. . . . just going from one profile to another.

This writer also believes that there are more of the former, rather than the latter. . . . . . thank goodness. And as for me, I prefer my zombies in a glass with lot's of ice.

Debbie Barth's professional background has mostly been in the administrative field. Debbie had the experienced living in Helsingborg Sweden for five years. She taught American English at Fokuniversitetet, Helsingborg, an extension of Lund University.

Upon coming to the United States, she was employed by a large company in Georgia as a project analyst, responsible for software conversions with major banking institutes. She is currently an executive assistant for the CEO of an insurance company in Greensboro, North Carolina.

She is the founder of NC Women's Network, and Network Shopping, as well as a publisher in Quikonnex. She is a member of Women's E-Commerce Association, International (WECAI).


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