digital networkingIt’s all about digital these days and it has impacted skills in networking. In the old days, you would wait for your bright and shiny new business cards to arrive from the printer. It was always great to open up the box and see how the cards looked with your name, title, organization name, logo and contact information.

I think that it still makes sense to invest in those cards and just have some with you. Some professionals still like to have business cards from those they meet, but obviously, the so-called “business card” means so much more these days. In a way, we’re all walking billboards and business cards for what we represent: ourselves, businesses, social sector organizations, groups, etc.

With social media, digital networking has transformed. More than likely, you have professional and personal contacts in your Facebook and Twitter accounts. And, although LinkedIn is a professional network, you’re probably also connected to your friends and maybe even family on this platform.

There are some strategies for digital networking that businesses and social sector professionals, including brands, can pay attention to so as to be more effective.

  • One of the first things that you want to be mindful of is that you to put others first. I like the concept of net-weaving, which is a reciprocal relationship. In other words, in networking, you’re typically seeking to get on someone’s radar. With net-weaving, you help people, which is simply good relationship building and business. Net-weaving is about not just your interests, we all have them, but also someone else’s interests. I believe in people first and figuring out ways to help promote others, their work and finding solutions for them.
  • Email and social media cannot replace good, old-fashioned conversations. I get it. We’re all busy and it’s a lot easier to shoot out a quick email or “connect” with social media than it is to pick up the telephone and actually take time to have a conversation. Make no mistake, there still needs to be a human connection. I like talking to people. This is how I learn about what they’re doing. I can ask questions and I can be more effective at net-weaving. Make it a point to pick up the telephone, attend a face-to-face or virtual meeting every week and speak to people. You never know what doors will open up!
  • Network and net-weave with people who are in your field and, perhaps, are even your competitors. Remember, you share a common interest. It makes sense to connect with each other. You may be able to learn something new or develop some sort of partnership. We talk a lot about “digital tribes” these days, which simply means those who share your interests. Opportunity always exists with like-minded individuals. Find your tribe and seek out to network and net-weave with those individuals.

Finally, always get back to people. Yes, we live in a very fast-paced world and there’s always so little time, but make it a point to respond to people. Common courtesy is noticed. I’ve seen more and more individuals fail to return phone calls, emails or even social media posts or tweets directed at someone in particular with a serious inquiry. Make it a point to reply. Sometimes things can fall through the cracks, but it shouldn’t be a habit. People remember those who get back to them–and those who don’t. Who do you think they want to support.


Author of “The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready”.


© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.