Do you hold these flawed beliefs about online networking?

On Friday I had a debate on twitter with a Canadian career coach where three very flawed beliefs became apparent:

  • The best networkers only use face-to-face networking
  • Small business owners don’t have enough time to use social media to network
  • Using social media to find a new job is fundamentally different to using social media to attract new business

Mmmm, this conversation was ever so slightly ironic given the fact we were having it on twitter. To be fair to the other person, social networking may not be as main stream in the small business community in Canada as it is now with the UK small business community.

In my biased view, the best networkers are selecting the right networking tool for the job, not just only using face-to-face networking. If you decide to ignore online networking or offline networking you are handicapping yourself compared to your peers and competition. The ability to lengthen and deepen your networking reach is SO much quicker and easier if you are prepared to use online networking. In fact, this can be done in odd moments of dead time when you are at your desk. No more need to turn up to endless mix and mingle networking events hoping to meet the right person. But, to quickly strengthen a relationship ‘in real life’ interactions, such as a phone call or lunch taken together, beats online networking hands down.  Maintaining regular contact or ‘touchpoints’ is possible with face-to-face networking tools such as phone calls, but tools such as e-mail, skype messages, social networking sites and forums are much easier to keep a meaningful dialogue going between phone calls and in person meetings.

There is this perception that you need to spend oodles and oodles of time on social media to use it effectively to generate new business. Actually, this isn’t true – and if you compared the amount of time I spent on social media to someone who used purely face-to-face networking to market their business, I would probably be spending less time overall.

As someone who uses phone calls , LinkedIn, twitter to find and build a relationship in its early stages, this means I don’t:

  • have any travelling time to network
  • endure and pay for badly cooked breakfasts
  • need to listen to endless 60 second pitches (often badly delivered)
  • pay for costly annual membership fees
  • spend time on 1:2:1s with under-connected members of networking clubs

As someone who chooses to use both online and face-to-face networking, my networking works around the needs of my business and my family. In real terms this means that most mornings, unless I am booked for a full day’s workshop, I take my kids to school, rather than getting up far too early to go breakfast networking... Let’s be honest, who is really at their best at 06:45 in the morning?

When time is tight – such as when you run your own small business – online networking gives you greater flexibility than face to face networking. Twitter and LinkedIn are permanently on – which you can’t say the same for formal networking events.

Then finally, unless I am missing the point, using social media to help you find your next role, is actually very similar to using social media to find new business. Let me explain:

  • you are still looking for referrals and introductions
  • you are still selling something – but not by pushing your product on other people
  • successful people target the right people to meet and build up a relationship with
  • successful people showcase their credibility and personal brand through what they are saying and writing

 

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I help professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers become the Go-To-Expert. After joining BDO LLP in 2004, I have now almost clocked up ten years working predominantly with accountants helping them achieve their career and business goals. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, I accidentally became a writer and used my knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (over 100 five star reviews on amazon) In 2012, the book I always wanted to write, 'How to make partner and still have a life' was published. In March 2014, my latest book, 'The Go-To-Expert: How to build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition and win business' was published. People frequently talk about me as someone who really knows her stuff – which may be the reason I have, over the last decade, worked with over 300 partners, coached and trained over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

I am honoured to have been asked to judge the British Accountancy Awards in 2011 and 2012. I am a member of the Accountant's Club Global Advisory Panel, and write regularly on practice management issues for CCH.

Myself, and Jon (my co-director) are approved Growth Accelerator Coaches. This means that we can if you are eligible, through the Growth Accelerator scheme, help you get some coaching funded by the scheme. Click here for more details to see whether you are eligible for the scheme.

Read how we have helped one of our accountancy clients access Growth Accelerator funding to grow their turnover by nearly 50% and profits by over 200%

The types of work I am currently helping my small professional practice clients with, includes:

1) Helping a £2m t/o practice grow to £4m by restructuring the firm and helping the management team step up 

2) Working with a £1m t/o practice to grow to £2m by generating more leads, and getting more work from existing clients

3) Enabling a £300k t/o practice grow to £1m by helping it sort out it's profitability by adding in efficient systems and processes, and increasing the quality of the  lead generation by marketing to a niche

4) Facilitating the growth of a one man band practice into a 3 person practice by helping increase the lead generation and conversion rate of leads, plus keeping the practice owner accountable to his goals.

The Excedia Group was founded by myself and Jon Baker to bring clarity, perspective and knowledge to help our clients achieve their business goals. We specialise in working with highly technical individuals, typically lawyers and accountants, helping them to get out of their comfort zone and build a profitable and sustainable client portfolio whilst handling the challenges of leading a business. 

My work splits into about 50% Executive & Business Coaching with Partners & potential partners, with the rest split between training, consultancy and writing.

My articles & quotes regularly appear in the press, e.g. FT, Guardian, Accountancy Age, Accounting Today, Economia, ACCA's publications. I regularly blog at Partnership Potentialventure-NowJoined up networking and How to make partner.

To book me for a speaking engagement please contact my PR Agency, Meerkat PR, on 020 8563 0182, and ask for David Stoch. For any other work related enquiries, please contact me directly.

My clients have included: Deloitte LLP, KPMG LLP, BDO LLP, Haines Watts, MSI Global Alliance, UK200 group, Macintyre Hudson LLP amongst others.