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Forget Networking: Nurture Your Community, and Reap the Rewards

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Forget Networking: Nurture Your Community, and Reap the Rewards

I have a secret — I suck at networking. It seems too transactional, and feels clumsy and uncomfortable. That’s why I avoided spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. Sure, I had a “network” — if you want to call it that — and a presence of sorts in the form of my profile. But it was an uncommitted relationship at best. I cheated frequently with Twitter and Facebook.

But recently I’ve experienced a change of heart.

I now understand that when I’m truly present there and rely on the strengths I’ve gained as a serial relocator, I can shine. After all, when I moved to South Carolina nearly three years ago, I had a handful of friends and a few dozen acquaintances. When I broke my leg on Easter, my communities rallied around me with meals for weeks, a ramp into my house and not one, but two wheelchairs.

So I’ve decided to forget the networking — I’m there to create a community that matters by meeting like-minded people and making friends. If you think this approach might work for you, here are a few tips:

1. Chat with people

When I connected with Reena Friedman Watts a few weeks ago, she asked me if I’d like to hop on a chat so we scheduled one for later in the week. We chatted about our businesses and helped each out with some advice and intros. It was great, and charged me up in terms of the potential of LinkedIn.

2. Talk to people

If chatting is great, talking is better. When I connected with Brian Wallace, he suggested a get-acquainted call. We hit it off immediately and laid the groundwork for a friendship and potential business relationship.

Related: Why Create a Customer-Centric Advisory Practice?

3. Share great content

There is a ton of great content to be found here on LinkedIn. If you find something, share it and give credit to the source. And don’t stop there — I’m here to learn as well as create community, and I want to learn from you and your connections so please share your content here.

4. Start and participate in conversations

It seems obvious, but it isn’t. Since I got all-in here, I have connected with lots of great people by reading content, sharing content and participating in conversations about thought-provoking content.

5. Take a chance and connect with people you don’t “know”

How are you going to build a community if you won’t get out of your comfort zone? The best thing about the internet is the ability to connect with like minded people from all over the world. And I have news for you – if you accidentally connect with someone who is fake or who is trying to scam you, you can unconnect in a minute. I extend the benefit of the doubt to legitimate seeming people who want to connect with me and I hope you will too. After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if we hadn’t taken a chance on each other. 

6. Avoid promotion

Please don’t directly promote your business. When I see it, I wince. It’s like a commercial in the middle of a great show. Build relationships, and the sales will come as you connect with people who need what you offer.

7. Give generously

When you give useful advice, connect others with useful contacts and help out, you’re building a true community. That community will pay dividends in more ways than one. In other words, forget about the networking — nurture your community, and you’ll reap the rewards.

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