In my August 23, 2007 blog on Corporate Alumni Networking, I mentioned that I had recently joined an alumni networking group that IBM created specifically for ex-employees like me. This group focuses on business networking and making potentially rewarding connections with other people who share the common experience of having worked for IBM. What a great idea for communicating business opportunities!
It also started me thinking about popular, social networking sites and the potential for business networking in those online venues. Social networkers come together to chat and share information about common interests and hobbies. Over time, it’s easy to build up comfortable relationships with fellow networkers. You get to a point where you understand their passions and pet peeves. You probably know what they do for a living and who irritates them the most at work.
I believe that social networking sites could deliver more tangible, measurable benefits to their members if they incorporated structured business networking into their services. People are already coming to their site for socializing; why not invite them to scheduled, online, networking sessions similar to Business Networking International? B.N.I. is the largest organization of it kind and has a highly successful process that could be used as a model for weekly business networking meetings on social networking sites. It’s a proven fact that people thrive on structure and tend to flounder without it.
For example, every week B.N.I. meetings are held at neighborhood hotels or restaurants before work or during the lunch hour. Meetings begin with a 60-second introduction by each member, telling the group what specific resources their company is looking for. After introductions, there is a planned, educational 10-minute talk by one member who goes into detail about their company’s services and products. Everybody learns something about the members at every meeting and actively tries to connect other members with interested prospects.
Smart social networking sites can increase their value to their members exponentially if they add organized business networking to their offerings.Google+