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I've been an advocate of business networking for quite a few years. I suppose it comes from having a career in journalism and PR - networking is just part of the job. I've had my fair share of less-than-stimulating business networking events and spent time that I will never get back with 'interested' individuals. Then again, I'm sure it's worked both ways.
I've been an advocate of social media and online networking for a few years, too. I certainly can't claim to be the earliest of adopters, nor can I boast an army of Twitter followers hanging on my every word. But I've got a few people that are actually prepared to re-Tweet or comment on this blog, or like the Net.Mentor Facebook page, which is comforting.
But what's really sparked my enthusiam is recent interaction with LinkedIn groups. I've been a LinkedIn member for some years and particularly appreciate the security of not being bombarded (or being able to bombard others) with spurious contacts having "read your profile and think we could do business together". It's where Ecademy has never really 'got it'. I have also been able to contact friends and colleagues I haven't seen for years and start conversations on a genuine business level.
But most importantly, I've found an incredible willingness for people to share advice and expertise through member-only LinkedIn Groups. I recently joined the Freelance Web Writer's group and some of the responses to requests for help have shown huge support for individuals that we barely know and who could, quite easily, be direct competitors to our businesses. There's something about sharing expertise with other experts, particularly when a group administrator, in this case Paul Lalley, leads by example.
OK, I know this isn't unique to LinkedIn and I'm sure if anyone comments on this blog, they will provide plenty of examples from other social networking sites. It's simply the principle and the warm feeling of being part of a group that shares. It's what networking is all about, but sometimes you just need to have your belief in humanity confirmed in a business context.
Published 3rd March, 2011