Like virtual communities? I’d suggest joining a real one!

real not virtual communityI’m an engineer by training and background and I’m the first to admit that engineers can lack certain social graces. I find it hard to just walk up to someone and schmooze if I don’t know them.

So when I started my own company and I started to have to market myself I jumped feet-first into the available social media communities. I met many interesting people through the various groups on LinkedIn. I joined Facebook initially just to keep an eye on my kids but found a real b2b home there. I stuck my toe into Twitter and found I really liked it!  But something was missing! Where was the human contact and where were the orders?

I found that when you are essentially selling yourself (as I was) you need to press the flesh in order to find potential clients and to close orders. It takes time – about 18 months in my case for all the flesh pressing to start to pay dividends but business from live networking communities is now paying my bills, something I couldn’t say before!

The benefits of joining live networking communities:

  • Meeting real people and forcing us out of our protective shell
  • Easier to close deals when you are sitting opposite a real prospect as opposed to being blown-off by e-mail
  • A sense of belonging and camaraderie
  • Business golf!

The down-side (there’s always a down-side!):

  • The cost of joining a group (find the low-cost/no-cost ones first!)
  • Time management – you can spend ALL your time meeting contacts and attending seminars and NO time doing paying work (get used to early morning meetings!)
  • You can meet “takers”, those only interested in taking from others and giving nothing of value in return – fortunately in my experience they are few and far between and don’t last long within the group.

The hardest part is making the first step – once you get into the flow of it you’ll be turning people down who want you in their group!

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