Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Connecting is Not Enough

Social networking sites, such as Ecademy, offer great opportunities to business networkers and small business. But there is a danger that true networkers will be driven away by people who just don't get it.

On my Ecademy profile I invite connections from people who are genuinely interested in building a relationship with me. I try to deter connections from 'number crunchers', people who just want to build the number of people in their network in the misguided belief it makes them good networkers.

Unfortunately I receive a large number of connection requests and vacuous messages every day.

One I received this morning highlights exactly how not to connect online. I'll share some brief lowlights with you:

I sent you a contact request earlier; however, at the time I was not able to send messages. I have since became a PowerNetworker. Therefore, I wanted to send you a short message to tell a little more about myself.

That's so kind of this person. It's just what I need, to hear more about them when I have no previous meaningful connection with them.

I will spare you the two paragraphs and list of career biography that follow.

Some have asked me how I have added so many people to my network in just a few short weeks. The answer is that I have been working several hours every day at making contacts with as many people as possible. I want to build a wide network, and have been concentrating on that for the first few weeks

At least he's honest about playing a numbers game. It is absolutely frightening that someone would work several hours a day spamming people on social networks. What a dreadful waste of his time, and of the people being spammed. He goes on to explain how he then plans to deepen the relationships he has forged, but not how.

With close to 1000 contacts forged in two weeks membership, he has presented himself with an almost impossible task. Creating meaningful contacts and deep relationships out of a mountain of connections would be incredibly time consuming and difficult to achieve.

Surely it would have been just as easy to start with a few connections where there is an obvious synergy, whether work related or based around personal interest. From those connections, he could have developed some Champions, people who believe in him based on the relationship they have built because he has been able to focus his attention on them.

From there he would be introduced to and be able to connect with more people naturally. And his network would begin to grow both wide and deep.

He finishes his email with a flourish.

If you have need for any of my services here in the US, in Europe, or in other countries I hope I can help you. Also, if you know of others who could benefit from my services, I would appreciate you relating me to them.

The email is all about "me", "me", "me". Not once does he mention anything in my profile, ask what I do or how he can help me. And then he finishes off by asking for referrals.

Online networking is now infested with people who are only focused on themselves and how many connections they can collect. They forget the importance of Dale Carnegie's words, "people are interested in people who are interested in them".

Fortunately there are still a large number of great networkers on Ecademy and on other online networks. People are still there who will put your needs first, help where they can and not expect in return. These people are, however, in danger of being drowned out by the noise.

I don't blame this person for his approach. The numbers-based system utilised and promoted by most of the social networks makes it inevitable. But it will drive genuine networks away if we're not careful. And these platforms are far too valuable for that to happen.

Isn't it time that something changed?


  1. Andy hi

    It is so easy to spot the name collectors. The only time that I accept anyone into my online networks is when I have had a real life or online conversation (not connection)with them.

    Anyone who asks me a relevant question about how they can help me, is asking for a relationship. Anyone who simply tells me what they do is sending a leaflet. The return on leaflet drops is about 3%at best is it not?

    It doesn't really cost that much to send out bulk e-mail shots like this online in the hope that you might just arrive on someone's doorstep that needs your services now. But; would the time be better spent targeting the audience with a message it really wants to hear?

    Laura McHarrie

  2. That's a very good analogy Laura.

    Some people seem to think that it's not a problem; if you don't want to connect you don't have to. However, the level of these 'leaflet drops' is reaching a level where people who truly want to connect are turning their backs on social networks.

    That can't be a good thing.