What's on the iPod: Ooh La La by Counting Crows
So what makes marketing different from networking? Often I see the words used interchangeably. That's not always incorrect. Marketing is selling a product or service in such a way as to make it desirable to the buyer. Networking is selling oneself in such a way as to make oneself desirable to "buyers." Buyers can be employers, collaborators, friends, colleagues... you get the idea.
Close in definition. Still, very different depending on the circumstance.
Marketing is more of a push to promote one's products or services. Networking is more of a construction project. You're building relationships and maintaining the ones you already have. But there will be times (probably more often than you think) where marketing and networking will show up at the same time.
Take your letter of introduction, or even your query letter. They're both there. You're telling someone about yourself and trying to sell them on the notion of hiring you for an article, a project, etc.
It's a simplified comparison of some complex ideas, so forgive any generalizations. The point is in order to market, sometimes you need a network of connections. It's at that first meeting that you'll make your best impression, even the virtual meeting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Here are ways I use to make a good impression out of the gate:
Be real. I get so tired of meeting someone who's sole intent is to sell something to me. So would you, and so will any prospective customers if you were to take that same approach. Instead, be yourself.
Engage. It's more how you engage that makes the difference, in my opinion. Get to know that person in front of you even if you think there's little chance you'll ever have a buy/sell relationship. Instead, make a friend and be a friend.
Be a great resource. If I can help one person I meet each day resolve a problem, find an expert, or get a question answered, I've networked correctly. I've been known to connect two different entities both looking for each other, which I think is neat. It also shows them I'm connected and they may mention that to someone.
Interact. Like I mentioned earlier this week, to me social media is for socializing. I've been known to say hello to people randomly just to see how they are, to communicate with them, and hey, if something comes of it, great! If not, I've had a nice conversation with someone who may think I'm a decent person.
Follow up. So your new Twitter follower has a great business in your specialty area. You've said hello. Get in touch again! This time, try sending them a link that relates to their business, or an article you've written on the subject. Just be sure to keep the conversation going. When your gut tells you it's appropriate, take it to email. I do that whenever I have a link I think would be helpful.
What do you do to make a good impression in your networking interactions?