I make it a point to read at least 3 industry articles per week, even if I just skim it for the salient points of interest. "Enough Already" (July 4th, 2012 - Rismedia) caught my attention because I feel sometimes we are pushed an pulled into social media that we really don't care to endeavor, but do so anyway. We are told it will generate leads, but we don't schedule time to learn how to use the tool or become interactive, thus it becomes a waste of time. I believe in social media, I just think that Jared makes some valid points about being effective. But this article's span is greater than just online, it's also about effective networking.
AVOID BEING A NETWORKING JUNKIE
We all know networking junkies, and social media is no different. There's a personality type that is drawn to social media, which is not much different than networking events. I have this colleague (note I don't say friend) that is always inviting me to stuff. She's a "Marketing Director" for her husband, a lender, but really, she's just directing me to time sucking events with more affiliates biding for my valuable time and business. No offense to affiliates, but there are some networking events that open up opportunities to meet people outside of the industry (client prospects) and others that are just about the industry. I attend 2-3 events per week for non-industry referral building, limit industry events to 2 per month, and choose them by topic/subject matter that will benefit me directly. Choose strategically, choose wisely.
BE AN ENERGY GIVER, NOT AN ENERGY TAKER
I attend a networking group and they have rules - yes, rules. Its not BNI, Lord knows I'm not willing to pay for networking; I don't buy leads, but that's another topic. There is always at least one person who says they market something, but then when you meet with them later throw out all kinds of business opportunities for you to "save money" or "make money." Or you might run into the guy who vomits all over you about their business, and never even asks you what you do or why you are there. We should remember when we attend networking events to build a brand - be a Realtor, a Lender, a Photographer, but keep it to that. Avoid asking for business directly, instead, ask them what they do, why they are there, then tell them "I'm always meeting new people and new opportunities. Please tell me how I can help you!"
AVOID SHALLOW NETWORKING, COLLECT FRIENDS
I have read articles and books on attending as many networking events as possible to "Collect Cards - like trading cards." Just reading it made me cringe. Honestly if a colleague has 10 Realtors in their referral book either you'll refer 10 and overwhelm people, or you'll refer 1-2 meaning that my card will only be handed out every 3-5 opportunities and that means it might not ever happen, much less a concern about to whom they'll be distributed. The goal of networking is not to collect cards, but to build meaningful relationships that results in an army of scouts for business opportunities. A good referral partner should generate a minimum of 1 referral per month. If not, they either aren't scouting, aren't thinking of you, or just don't think you are the right person for their referral network.
One of my favorite questions is "If a friend asked you if you know of a Good Realtor, who would you refer?" The answer should be "Sure, You" or you're in trouble.
BE EFFECTIVE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA, NOT A WALL FLOWER
Social media is no different, it's just in the cloud. As part of your business plan, determine how much time you have to spend actually networking, sprinkle in genuine fun and value, then make it part of your daily or weekly action plan.
Lastly, don't be a wall flower, get in and add content. You'll never achieve results holding up the wall! Keep in mind that Facebook wall posts scroll out of sight every 15-30 minutes depending on how many friends you have and even faster for Twitter. Keep content fresh, friendly, frequent, and relevant (couldn't think of an "f" synonym!)