Do you question the value of the friending procedure on social networks? Do you have any contact with those people after the initial acceptance? I’ve written about Shyness in Social Networking & this article explains the underlying reasons behind it.

The procedure isn’t the issue. It’s what you do after that’s important. I found the perfect explanation of my philosophy in a book that Chris Brogan sent my way to be reviewed: Strategy and the Fat Smoker by David Maister. It’s perfectly suited to what I’m doing now: creating strategies for effecting change. (I am highlighting the heck out of it! As a recent librarian, I just couldn’t take those liberties with library copies!)

David Maister’s book is intended for consultants. But his discussion of the consultant client relationship relates completely to networking. He suggests that there are two ways to treat an interaction:

  1. as a transaction
  2. as a relationship

I think many people are more comfortable networking with people in the first case. You are interacting for a specific reason. There are expectations, set goals & once it’s done, then both parties move on. People are more comfortable knowing that it’s short term. But what if it isn’t? And if one party expects more networking to happen later, then it can be awkward because of different perceptions.

In my interactions with people, I see them as relationships. My sister noticed long ago that I get to know people even in business relationships. Admittedly, I am very open. But I’ve found that my work is more gratifying that way. People appreciate if you invest in the relationship & show that you care. The advantage is that if you’re investing in a relationship then both sides are better prepared for the next time your paths cross.

So if you’re more comfortable with transactions (because they are easier & require less of an investment of yourself), how can you become one that builds relationships?

  • Be able to see the difference
    • Does it make sense? I think that a relationship results in trust & earning the other person’s respect.
  • Have faith that it’s possible and ok to be more open with people.
    • Show an interest in other people
    • Ask questions about their business & interests
      • It’s a great way to learn more about them & the world around you.
    • It involves some risk, but that’s what makes it interesting.
  • Share your talents with others.
    • Ask yourself what are yours? and offer them to others.
    • They will reciprocate likewise and a relationship will grow.

In your networking are you transacting business or creating relationships? What happens after the initial befriending? Do you follow up & reach out? Go ahead & try it & see what happens! I dare you to (& see what happens)