Networking: What exactly is it, and how do you use it (appropriately)?

  • Post category:Networking

I have had the opportunity lately to tap into “Marketing” something to get some traction on a Vote for Me scenario.  It made me wonder about Networking and what it really is and what I would use it for.  There are many spammers and others out there who would just send anything and everything out to the masses in the name of Marketing.  I thought about this concept and this contest for a Cute Girls Hairstyle blog, that I am trying to get people driven to. This a neighbor of mine and I think that it is a nice gesture to support their cute family in this contest.

Now when people think of Marketing, that word, in and of itself can make you think of many things about what it is.  That is why I wanted to write this post about Networking.

When someone wants to “tap his network”, what kind of things are fair game?  I am part of many networks, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Microsoft MVP, Twitter, Blogging and some others.  Now when you think of the purpose of those networks, are there topics in them that are taboo?  If you opened the floodgate on them, would you have problems with complaints?  What exactly is “tapping the network” in these cases?  Many could successfully argue about LinkedIn being more professional contacts, Facebook being highly social and only that, MVP being Technical and Twitter being a hybrid of all those.  So how do you use them to get traction on something of a cause or contest or whatever, that you feel strongly about helping out with?  Would you cry foul if this came over a professional networking site?  Maybe, maybe not.

Here are my views, and I encourage you to weigh in on this topic, because it would be interesting to compile thoughts and post them about how this affects the online universe we all live in every day.

I think that networks are a great tool for finding jobs, friends, viewpoints and information about topics.  Each one seems to have a purpose, and I think it would be out of line to violate the purposes of those networks. A list of purposes are below and what I think they are used for.

  • Professional networks are mainly used to connect people in like professions for a few reasons.  The first reason I think of is needing help with problems that you just need another set of eyes.  This can get you in trouble a little in the IT world as it could be construed as “free consulting”, but could be valuable to both parties, so you could choose to overlook or to scold in this one. 
  • The next reason would be Job Search and contacting about jobs. This is a tricky one because of the recruiting that goes on.  Recruiters get in your network, and yet they are not technical like, at least in most cases.  So do they belong?  The job potential may be one that you could overlook their involvement in your network at that level, but I am not sure that it is the right networking opportunity and should be shied away from.
  • People connections.  This one can be done on many networking sites, and is probably appropriate on the majority of networks.  But at the same time, probably the most tricky, because of the boundaries of the above networks, when your topic is not in harmony with the purpose of the networks.  You can be friends with many in the professional networks, but how would your message be received about this contest above that I have pointed to?  This is tricky, is the best answer for me to this one.
  • Association networking.  You belong to a group or an association and you want to use this network for the above purpose.  This is probably out of line here as well, due to the charter of the organization or association.

With these thoughts in mind, I just find it frustrating that there is not a better way than Facebook to communicate out something that you want to get people involved in.  Now there is one network that I neglected to put down for a reason, and that is because it deals with a valuable sanctuary that most if not all of us have, and that is the “Email Box”.  Because of all the spam we get out there, it seems that the email box is being protected and is not seen at first as a networking method.  I just have been having a dilemma on how to get the word out to people that I know would vote or participate, but being overly respectful of all the requests for our time that we have in this ever changing world.  As we get more fast-paced, and crazy with time constraints, it becomes easy to have 5+ networks and to not be sure how to use each one of them appropriately.

For this contest, I have turned to Facebook, Blogging, LinkedIn as a status update instead of a mass message, Twitter as a plea for assistance, and I will turn to my family on Email and certain others that I know would not be offended in this venture.  What do you all think?  Where would this contest be appropriately submitted for help to get votes?  What are networks used for in your opinion?  And a topic for another day, how do you build networks to a level of effectiveness to assist you when you are in need of assistance?  I am sure that I have not done this topic justice, but wanted to get it out there so that I can continue to think about it, but get some weigh-in about your thoughts about “Networking” as it has been very much on the forefront of my mind lately with requests to “tap into my network” for assistance with a myriad of things.

Thanks for listening.

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