10 Laws Of Real World Social Networking Success

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Marketing success in the world of online social networking is not easy. Whether you’re trying to build a group or fan page in Facebook or wiggling your way through LinkedIn for more business contacts. The lack of personal connection adds a barrier, while the quantity quotient (how many connections do you have?) is still part of the game (for some).  I spend of lot of time "networking" (whatever that means) in the real (physical) world too. I like meeting people, connecting and identifying what their needs are. For a long while, I was giving many public presentations on how to network effectively.

Here are my ten laws of real world social networking success:

1. Giver’s Gain – go in with the mind-set of identifying what the person you’re connecting with needs, and how you can help them accomplish this goal. The more you give, the more you get (as they say).

2. Make a plan – know where you’re going, who’s going to be there, and what you would say if you met them. Prior to attending any conference (whether I’m presenting or not), I make a "hit list" of the people I would most like to meet. I do my research on them, and try to learn everything I can about who they are and what makes them tick.

3. Spend your time with people you don’t know – what’s the point of going to an event and hanging out by the bar with the four people you’ve known forever? (unless you’re just going to get drunk. If that’s the case, stay away from networking events and me when I’m on the road).

4. Look good – now, a lot of people take exception to this point, but what I’m saying is dress appropriately, do a breathe check, etc… If Unabomber Chic is the look of the group, then fine, but all too often I see people who really look out of place. I’m also not saying to be a sheep and follow everybody else, just know what the event is and how you should look to make a mark (and not be a goofball).

5. Remember the old saying, "you only get one chance to make a first impression." Make it count.

6. Business cards – have them, use them. Don’t be the guy doing the "business card drop-off" (where you run from cluster to cluster of crowds handing out business cards like they are free samples of Rum) – use them intelligently. Always ask for the other person’s card first and exchange. Not having them on you is a sign of disrespect and being unprepared (in my opinion).

7. Listen actively – remember that old saying, "God gave you two ears and one mouth – use them proportionately."

8. Introduce whoever you meet to others, and always welcome people into your circle of conversation. Networking is awkward for everyone – make it less awkward by taking the lead and inviting people on the sidelines to jump in the conversation game.

9. Smile and have good/positive body language. Looking tough, bored or better than others is not going to get you in the frame of mind you need to be to meet, connect and share.

10. Hold a dinner after the event. Invite 3-4 people to dinner afterwards. Don’t ask me why this works, but it changes the dynamics. You know you’ll be meeting up with certain others later and, for some reason, knowing I’m going for dinner after a networking event gets me primed to network more effectively.

So, why this post?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Marketers can have more success in online social networks. I realized that these ten laws of real world social networking success applies just as much (if not more) to online social networks. Read through them again, and see if you can do the translations? (i.e. what is "looking good" in an online social network? Hint: it’s your profile description).


  1. Wish you wrote this a few weeks ago!
    I have to concurre, those are lesson you will learn quickly while networking, but not everyone has them figured out yet.
    #6 can be a problem: some company can be awfully slow to get you cards (been there). Print some white card with your name and phone number. It’s not as great, but people will understand the situation better then if you don’t have anything.

  2. This is a very good post Mitch. However, I’m a terrible networker, in fact, I have “minglephopia” — I actually go to events with only people I know so I can hold onto them like a barnacle. I can only meet people if I’m introduced to them properly. I wrote a blog about this awhile ago … I think there are a lot of us out there …
    What if you have a fear of mingling like I do? Then what do you do?

  3. Mitch,
    Wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I started a blog. It is pretty basic at the moment and design wise it needs a lof of work, but it is a start! Tks again for your dedication to this space and Godspeed!
    We need to have you over to Geneva to speak sometime! When are you next in Europe?
    The blog is at http://www.m-cause.com

  4. We’ve all come to be too focused on the name ‘social networking’. Online social networks change very few rules from offline social networks. Do you still send contacts you havent’ seen in a few years a christmas card?
    It’s just networking, like it’s always been.

  5. Great networking suggestions. So important for people in many fields – marketing including.
    Here is another point – when networking – spend time with each person, don’t be constantly on the look-out for someone “better”. You might miss out by always looking around for the next person to conquer!
    There is nothing worse than talking to someone who is on a two-minute time rule, and looking for someone they feel is more important than you are!

  6. I have only recently embraced the social networking world and purchased an iPod Touch specifically to listen to podcasts in my car (hate wasting time) and am addicted to you Mitch. I appreciate your honest and direct advice about networking. I’m all too aware of all of the situations highlighted by these excellent comments and we’re trying a “Speed Mixer” networking idea at MARCOM this year to try to make it meaningful for experts and minglephobics alike. Will report on results later. http://www.marcom.ca

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more on this list. I especially enjoyed #1 since I’ve said that very thing many times.
    While it’s very important to build relationships with other bloggers within in our own niche, I’ve found it be very helpful by getting to know others outside of my niche too.
    Too often bloggers have the attitude, “Look at me!” but fail to spend the necessary time and focus on WHY should other bloggers pay attention to you or your blog?

  8. Thanks for the networking tips Mitch. Since attending your intensive, one-day course on Social Media Marketing + Web 2.0, (which I found useful and would highly recommend to anyone interested in this space – your enthusiasm for social media is contagious!) I have been following your blog. It is inspiring. Thank you.
    I agree with others who have commented on your post, the same basic prinicples apply to networking whether you’re on or offline. While I recognize that the use of tools like facebook should be a reflection of oneself – use common sense. It drives me crazy when individuals use their profiles to be something they’re not or do something they would otherwise be uncomfortable doing in the “real” world – where their colleges, clients and contacts bear witness. Common sense still prevails, whether you’re on facebook or at a cocktail party.

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