Have you ever wondered if your networking activities are as effective as they could be? I think all of us who benefit from business and social relationships occasionally ask ourselves that question.One reason to be concerned is that good networking skills —– like good athletic or business skills — require study and practice. But we need more than “how to” skills — we need to know why we’re networking. In other words, we also need a networking strategy.

A book by two expert networkers covers both the “why” and “how” of online networking. The Virtual Handshake, by David Teten and Scott Allen, is an excellent guide for using a wide range of Internet tools and techniques to expand your network of contacts.

Networking Tools, Tips & Techniques

Much of the book contains a tremendous amount of information about using social software tools, such as!

  • Social networking sites (such as LinkedIn, Ryze, Ecademy)
  • Blogs
  • E-mail
  • Instant messaging
  • Discussion forums and lists

Creating A Networking Strategy

There are many reasons to network with other people, but I usually group them into three broad categories:

  • Business networking — Includes sales, business development, partnering, career advancement, etc,
  • Social Networking — Includes activities with friends, dating, etc,
  • Civic Networking — Includes volunteering and participating in civic activities and meetings, etc.

Each area requires a different strategy so that you can nurture the right relationships for each purpose.

In Part One of their book the authors describe the “Seven Keys to a Powerful Network:”

  • Your character
  • Your competence
  • Relevance of the people you know
  • Information you have about the people in your network
  • Strength of your Relationships
  • Number of people in your network
  • Diversity of the people in your network

What’s more, the authors have several chapters of practical advice on how to improve the quality of your network in each area.

These chapters are great to review monthly or quarterly to help keep your networking activities focused and on track.

Putting It All together

The Virtual Handshake is an excellent guide for anyone who is just getting started growing their contact network.If you’ve been online a while but are not yet reading blogs and using one of the profile Web sites, you’ll pick up a number of essential techniques, too,

Speaking of blogs, the authors have a very interesting and useful blog atwww.thevirtvualhandshake.com/blog where you can also learn more about their book.

 

Cliff Allen is the co-author of the book One-to-One Web Marketing; 2nd Ed., published by John Wiley & Sons., and is co-founder of SureToMeet.com.