Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
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A Quick Word on Schmoozing and Social Media and Why You're Doing it Wrong

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Okay. I lied. This is gonna be more than just one word. It’s gonna be a couple.

    I feel like lately there’s been a surge of the folks I know and work with networking for networking’s sake. Networking is a skill, but it also is a bit of a dark art. There are the nervous, sweaty and dandruffed people wringing their last business card waiting for you to be done speaking so they can swoop in, drop it off and disappear. Then there are the slick charmers who can be of equal substance but come across far much more.

    The thing is, much like insanity, whether you’re good or bad at networking, you probably don’t know which camp you fall under. That’s good because you could always be better. We all can. And that’s true of most skills. But what I’m seeing -- and my fellow Inc. Wellian JD Gershbein would probably disagree with what I’m about to say -- is a surge in people flipping their business cards at people blindly and/or asking to be connected on LinkedIn when they don’t know you at all.

    While it’s true you don’t really know who’s going to be your best contact down the road, what good is being connected with someone if you have to not just jog someone’s memory but sprint it just to remember who the heck you are and how they know you -- much less why they should help you?

    I just feel like this is time everyone could be better spent on, like, I don’t know ... work? Maybe this is just the Midwesterner in me, but if you do hard work and hustle at it, your followers, your disciples and your launchpads will find you.

    I feel particularly bad for publicists these days, who have to try harder than ever to keep the attention of journalists and the people they represent. For whatever reason, we’re all multitasking and supposedly doing tons of different things at once. But the thing about multitasking is you’re doing a lot of different things, but none of them particularly well. It’s a bit like the approach to networking people are taking now.

    All that said, here is my surprisingly strict rule about non-Twitters social media: For me to accept you, I must know who you are.

    Imagine the gall.

    But personally, I would much rather get a personal note from someone expressing why they want to get in touch with me and why I came to mind instead of the one-size-fits-all “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

    Yeah, I know. You’d like to.

    What I’d like is for you to be sincere, be honest and be a real person. We all respond far better to that.