This month let’s look at some of the unique benefits that using online networking sites offer entrepreneurs that traditional face-to-face relationship building does not:
Where else can you easily search for people by industry, geography, title, and personal interests? It’s the yellow pages on steroids. You can be highly focused in a way that’s impossible in person. This is a great way for entrepreneurs to find potential business partners, employees, and inside contacts at sales prospects.
High visibility at low cost
Most of the sites let you create a profile for free, and entrepreneurs can use all the free exposure they can get. Sure, there’s a limit to how many you can actively participate in, but you can participate passively in dozens of sites. The trick is to keep a document with a master copy of all your profile information so you can easily copy and paste it and set up your profiles quickly.
While no one likes to be approached inappropriately, you’ll find people in networking sites more receptive to an informational phone call or email exchange. On LinkedIn, for example, you can specify whether or not you’re willing to accept contacts regarding deal proposals, and you can limit your searches only to people that are. In the discussion boards, blatant advertising may not be allowed, but you won’t be accused of making a sales pitch just for sharing your expertise.