If you’re ready to make the leap to online marketing and you want to build your business by networking, the best small business networking tool that I’ve found so far is LinkedIn. It’s grown to be quite popular and is one of the fastest growing online networks available.
Unlike other networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, there’s not a lot of fluff. You won’t find oodles of apps and widgets that have no useful business value. No freckle-faced high school kids pinging you to see what your thoughts are on the latest hip hop craze, no graffiti on virtual walls, and no endless streams of surveys asking you what your favorite green vegetable is. At LinkedIn, it’s all about business and that’s why I like it.
The way LinkedIn is set up, you have a network that consists of your central hub – your connections. These are the people you are linked to directly. Probably, when you start, you know these people off line. If you join, you can add me to your network and we’ll be linked.
The next level in your network are the friends of friends, “two degrees away.” These people are potential members of your hub and can be introduced through your mutual friends whenever one of your friends sees that you can benefit each other. It’s like meeting at a convention and having Joe at XYZ introduce you to Tom at ABC because you’re not competitors, you trust that neither will attempt to steal you away from the other, and they can benefit each other. It’s how real life networking is done.
Three degrees away, a friend of a friend, is your extended network. Chances are, if you have five or six friends in your hub, this third degree level is hundreds of thousands strong. But all it takes to get to one of these people in your third level, someone who could be very influential in your business, is a couple of introductions.
There is a reason why LinkedIn is popular and growing among the business sector online. It works. It’s fun. And it’s all business. Networking the way real life networking has been done for centuries.