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I don't understand networking. How do I get the word out about what I do? No one has really heard of me unless they have attended my workshops. How does ViralNetworkers or Twitter help us to become known? I understand Facebook and have been a member for some time now. It's completely different than Twitter. I can write short or lengthy "notes," have photos available right on my wall, and people can comment on what I say. In fact, I'm not limited to what I want to say. No so with twitter. You are limited to word count and if you want a photo, you have to do it on another page, not the home page. What must I do to become known to others through networking and use very little words?

Linda Weaver Clarke

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Linda, here's a little brief synopsis that I hope you can use...

Many business owners still don't completely understand Social Networking. Many folks get the impression it is joining electronic media websites, filling out a profile, and customers will come to you. That's not it at all - because that is still thinking on the mentality of Web 1.0 where communication is one way.

Social media is all about being SOCIAL. Growing your following just allows one to be social with more people. If you're not following anyone, not connecting, not reaching out and touching, you have no one to interact with.

Growing your following is incredibly important for any social media. BUT meeting with folks one-on-one and face-to-face is even more important. The Social Networking 'media platforms' are only the tip of the iceberg. Not one can possibly link to and intimately know more than 200-300 folks in their personal social or business circle - mentally and physically impossible. BUT, I have over 4,555 connections on LinkedIn, including the top 25 most connected recruiters. Does that get me a job or generate business? No. It does give me more opportunities to meet with folks, find folks within companies I'm targeting for my business, as well as give me the POC information for (if nothing else) to e-mail folks to inquire about some information or a person.

All social media endeavors should be approached with the "what can I give?" attitude vs "what can I get? (as in can I sell something today?)" People see through this very quickly and are very hesitant to interact with people who ONLY plug their business. As a consultant, I have offered: 1) SME advice for use in books/textbooks for job seekers, 2) answer questions posted on LinkedIn consistently and constantly, 3) provide free presentations to business network groups in my geographic area, and 4) have offered free resume writing advice to several desperate job hunters - and not once asked anyone for their business. When I do need to start marketing my business hard for new clients - I have established a rapport, developed credibility, gained some trust, and folks will be very much more likely and eager to pay me for my services (or product).

Twitter shouldn't be confused for a sales tool. Twitter is a vehicle for data-mining information and finding out what folks are talking about, communicating to each other, and developing an interest from others in what you do. ViralNetworker is a site that allows you to self-education and reflect on what you wish to do using the tools and media available to you on a social networking platform. MySpace and FaceBook should be used for specialized and/or unique sales (tools) - for instance many Network Marketing businesses (used to be called Multi-Level Marketing) such as Shaklee, Avon, and others use more personal level social circles to market their products to family, friends, and close acquaintances. LinkedIn should be used more for professional business (B2B or B2C) connections where the customer is looking for a consultant, a subject matter expert, a practitioner, a product, a service, etc., and wants to keep it on a business level versus a personal level (although personal makes it more friendly).

And the MOST important piece of getting the word out there about your business when you are using social media to network is your 'signature' which is the perfect place to provide a small amount of info about yourself, do a little subtle advertising, and start working on brand awareness for yourself and your business. (See below)

Hope this opens your eyes and gives you some good suggestions on what you were asking?

Dawn Boyer is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University in the Darden College of Education, working on her PhD in Occupational Studies and Technology), as well as working as a (Doctoral) Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching computer science and technology to undergraduate students. She has over 19 year of senior management experience in human resources, nine years in the defense-contracting arena. Ms. Boyer also provides HR consulting services to small businesses, including small and dynamically growing defense companies, in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Her LinkedIn profile is: She accepts all LinkedIn invites via
Thank you Dawn. This really helps a great deal. You answered many questions I had in my mind and now I understand. Since I'm a writer, then I should join the many writing blogs that I've discovered and interact with them as well. I didn't know the worth of these sites until now. Thanks. I really appreciate this help.

Linda Weaver Clarke
This is a most interesting conversation and the subject is vast. Here are a couple of other thoughts.

Dawn is right on point. There is a cost involved in many opportunities to take part in certain business networks and both BNI and the Chamber are no exception, and to a brand new start up, this should not be considered lightly.

But BNI does not require that you bring referrals weekly, but only that you are bringing some on occasion, or attempting to. And there is a definite cost to it. A brand new company may not be able to afford the time and expenditure. However, I do know of a member of my group who joined it (I believe) 6 or 8 years ago and was in the hole the first year. This year, he will do over $1,000,000 in business and he will tell you that it is mostly due to his joining that particular BNI group. BNI also allows some missed meetings without a substitute, and with too many absences in a quarter without a substitute, could bring a request to vacate your seat. Regardless, I really appreciate Dawn's admonition to be careful with your funds. And to help you learn, you may attend my group as a guest at no cost if my group meets at a convenient time for you. We meet every Thursday morning from 7:30 to 9:00 at Pembroke 2 on the third floor. We have around 35 members. If you would like to see another one in action, cal Lisa Renz, the area director at 965-7232 and she can give you meeting times for other groups.

A great way to see a live business network in action is to visit a Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours. It is a fun and relaxed atmosphere and not as structured as BNI. Please call my friend Jon Motil at the Chamber of Commerce and ask him about the next event on April 15th at The Nolan Bath Center at 663 Woodlake Drive in Chesapeake. You may come as Jon's guest at no cost, or mine. You will be in a room full of people who do this type of thing all the time and others who will be doing it for the first time. Jon or I would be glad to tell you what to expect and introduce you do some of the people we know. you will be in a room full of people who EXPECT you to ask them what they do and to ask what you do. Food and drinks will be served as part of the event. If he is there, and he usually is, I will introduce you to Paul Ariola of Dale Carnegie Training who will be more than glad to show you in a very few minutes exactly how to introduce yourself at this type of gathering in order to be more effective. We help each other all the time and will be only too happy to help you as well.

Just remember, Dawn is exactly right when she says that any business must be careful with the funds they have for marketing and advertising - which is exactly what networking is - and all of this should be part of a well designed business plan.

Lastly, if you attend either of these groups, bring at least 50 business cards with you. And if you don't have them, you can pick up blanks at an office supply store, use a Word Template (search for business card templates), and create and print them yourself. I think a pack is about $12 to $18 and I have used them myself.

Good luck to you. Remember, though I am experienced at this, I started out not understanding this, and people just like those I have mentioned, helped me get started too. The relationships I formed with people in these groups have become invaluable to me over time.
I have addendums:

1) Great (awesome, actually) places to find others with interests in the same as you is: 1), which allows you to post a profile, then find others in groups with mutual interests, whether it is business, entrepreneurism, gender specific, kid-related, dating interests, etc., and as a member you get to join for free - meeting organizers pay minimal fees and have the option to charge guests. 2) is another group meeting organization site.

2) Chandler has an very good point - do not leave the house or any room you are in with others, without pressing your business card in someone's hand. You don't have to try to sell them anything - simply say, "Here's where you can reach me if you want my POC info."

3) For social network sites: DO link them together if you can. I have my Blog linked to my FaceBook and LinkedIn account; I have my Twitter account posted on LinkedIn; and My Facebook automatically gets updated when I announce to others that my business network group is having meeting (via directly onto Craig's list.

4) Speaking of Craigs List - that and LinkedIn also has "Events" or "Groups" listings - you can search for mutual interest (topic) on either of them by zip code or metropolitan area to find groups, just like on

5) You need to ensure that you do spend a little time on your Social Networking sites - at least 5-10 minutes each, every day or two, to ensure you are getting your ROI for your posting efforts. If you only post your profile and not visit the social site but once every week or so, you might as well not even do it. Your invitations will get stale and folks will forget you.

6) Be careful about some groups you may wish to join.

a) Although for some, BNI is a great opportunity to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs, they do have very strict rules and are somewhat costly for some very small time entrepreneurs - and there are membership attendance rules that are somewhat strict - if you can't attend a meeting, you MUST find a substitute. And, you are expected to bring referrals to other business members weekly (but on the other hand, they must also bring you referrals). Additionally, the price to be a member is somewhat costly.

b) I would look for networking business groups which are 'free' to join first, visit on a regular basis to feel out the room, the people, and the opportunities. Usually by the third or fourth visit, you "know" whether it's a good fit for you. I would NOT advise continuing to go to a group which 1) never has any new faces, or 2) charges money and doesn't seem to give any benefits back.

c) Some groups simply ask that group members purchase 'something' from the meeting-place sponsors (restaurants where the meeting is held - a drink or appetizer, if not a meal); and you must understand that this is what enables the meeting to be held in that venue. So it costs a few buck...but the ROI might be much higher, and the expense is 'tax-deductible' as a meeting expense, if nothing else!

Dawn Boyer
Find my blog at:
HI Linda,
Dawn has a great response.

Be social. Learn what you can from what is written by others and add your experience to the replies.

Join groups. Help people. Your support will be returned a hundred-fold.
Use a signature file to point people to your website or blog.

Best of luck.
Great response Dawn!

Linda, you can start by posting your updates/photos from FB to Twitter. The key to any site is participation. On Twitter you can retweet or respond to someone's tweet, as well as writing your own tweets. The sames goes for this site and others, join in on discussions and start your own. You're already on the right track you just don't know it.
The best way to market yourself, hands down and especially for a small business, is to network with others professionally and have a group of people who know and trust you, open doors for you. But there are skill sets for making this a success that must be learned and eventually mastered. The art in it is understanding the sales message process. All to often you will hear someone say, or see on a website something like this: We are a technology company that helps people meet their goals quickly and easily, and we really care about customer service. Well, that is about as useless as telling someone that your new widget, the best that has ever been developed, has the new left handed twin rotating fram dibulizer at no additional cost. So what! ............ Again, so what! Big deal. What does this person do? Did they answer it? Nope. What sort of technology company are they - network, web developer, software engineering firm? Create a short message for yourself that centers on what you are best at doing and make it a short (within 10 to 20 seconds) verbal introduction.

In addition, networking is more than telling people face to face what you do. If you handle yourself that way, most people will forget you very quickly unless you are lucky enough to find someone who needs exactly waht you have to offer. The best way to set yourself apart from the rest and be remembered is to first concentrate on what the other person does. People love to talk about about themselves, so use it to your advantage. Ask a few questions about them and they will open right up. Focus on them first, and let the focus stay there for a while. Ask how they got into the business, what they like about it, what they feel is the most difficult part. On occasion, you will ask a question like that, a problem will be revealed, and low and behold, that is exactly what you do. But do not hurry to get that point out. Ask them other questions around the problem. Then take a step that most people are afraid to take: shut up and listen to the answers. When they are done, tell them that that is very interesting, and wait for them to ask you what you do. If you were lucky enough to have hit the right person, you may now tell them that you might be a good fit to solve that problem for them, because it is your area of expertise.

Lastly, there are ways to craft your message to that it reveals the reasons that people would want to do business with you. In a network setting, you want to be remembered and not forgotten. If your story is not a great match for the person you were talking to, but they remember you because you cared enough to listen to them, the next time they meet someone who can use your help, there is a far greater likelihood that they will refer that person to you. And always carry plenty of business cards. By the way, this is the type of thing I do for a living - one of them - teach people how to communicate effectively.
Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone. I really appreciate it. I guess it's all about caring and helping others.
You are welcome. Come in and visit one of the local BNI groups or a Chamber of Commerce After Hours event. I belong to both organizations and get a lot of both of them - in fact a minor officer of one and the Board of Directors of the other. You can reach me directly at or read my blog at I have been in sales and marketing for 36 years. Happy Easter Weekend.
Happy Easter to you, too. One of my daughters is coming home for Easter and she made a request. "How about having an Easter basket for me?" Her dad said, "Hey, it's about time you brought one for us since we've been doing it for so many years." Funny!
Good Afternoon Linda,

Dawn is spot on, she's given some excellent advice. I thought I might address the Twitter portion a bit more directly.

My use of Twitter is to let people know that I've just made a post on another site or to call attention to an article that I found interesting and I'd like people to take a look at. There are some excellent URL shorteners out there, I use bitly at, so that it doesn't take up as much space in the Twitter post. One of my posts on Twitter might look like this:

"I've just posted a blog on Ecademy about Social Networking, you can read it here: http://bitly....."

or here's an actual post from my Twitter account

"Chicago was designated the 10th most miserbale city to live in the country... "

Sometimes it's just just for fun. Chicago being the 10th most miserable city to live in, while it may be true according to this article writer, in my humble opinion is completely ridiculous. I love Chicago, and this post sparked a week and a half long debate on different networks. While it didn't do anything to get the word out about my business the useage is the same for a business Twitter account. Create a short message that sparks interest on a topic and leave a URL (a shortened URL!) so they can view the complete message. As people read your posts and like what you have to say they will follow you and eventually follow your blog directly.

Just my 2 cents worth,



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