There are two schools of thought when it comes to online connections. One school believes that you should gather as many connections as possible from your various social media channels. The other believes that you should choose your connections carefully.
If you have a strong Internet presence, you must get numerous invitations through your social media channels to connect with other people. Many of the people who wish to connect with you are involved in businesses that are relevant and synergistic to yours. However, there are other people who have read what you are sharing online and want to connect with you simply because they like to read what you write and want to be part of your “entourage.”
There are some social media websites that have “opt-in” as their default (Facebook, for example). That means that any person with whom you share an online connection can add you to any other online group that they choose, even if you have never given them permission. Of course, once you discover that you are part of a particular group, you can unsubscribe immediately. However, the idea of being added to a group automatically and without any control on your part is very annoying, particularly if the theme of the group is one that would never interest you in the first place. Not all social media channels work in the same way. Just remember to be cognizant of those that have a default that you wouldn’t choose on your own.
Getting back to those two schools of thought, there are arguments for each one.
It is essential to have online connections that are mutually beneficial for business. There are many people who believe that being able to say that they have hundreds or even thousands of online connections is enough. While that may be impressive to some people, you need to ask yourself what you are actually getting out of those numerous connections. Are they helping you to achieve greater success in your business? Do they enhance your offerings in any way? Do they make you more attractive to prospective clients and existing clients? The last thing that you want is a bunch of social media connections that are superficial and insignificant.
Once you start to strengthen your online presence and the relationships that you share with your online communities, you will start to gather numbers as well. Remember that the quality of your online connections will dramatically affect the success of your online marketing efforts. The point here, however, is that your measure of success should not be based solely on the numbers. Also, if you share connections with people and they were of value to you when you first connected with them but that value has diminished, you should consider disengaging from them.
Quantity connections also have merit, although those connections may not have the longevity that quality connections have. Being connected to anyone who wants to connect with you gives other people the perception that you are worth being connected to. If people whom other people trust are connected with you (or want to connect with you), you must have something of value to give. Some people also believe that the more online connections you have, the greater your chance of acquiring quality connections with whom you will eventually do business. Additionally, the more connections you have, the greater chance you have of driving more traffic to your website.
If you are part of this school of thought, it is important to try to become acquainted with as many of your connections as possible. A good compromise when it comes to deciding on which connections you want to accept and which ones you don’t want to accept is to write a script, which you can send as your Email response. The response should thank the person for wanting to connect with you. The next paragraph should ask the person why he or she wishes to connect with you. Ask what type of business he/she is in and why he/she feels that the connection between the two of you would benefit both of your businesses.
Some people will respond to you with more information and some people will be insulted and tell you to forget it (or not respond at all). This is part of your “weeding out” process. The people who were insulted by your response are probably people with whom you wouldn’t end up developing a solid business relationship anyway. Those people who have responded with more information are people with whom you really want to connect.
It is very important to consider both sides of the coin when it comes to online business connections. You only have so many hours in the day in which to connect with people and to continue to build your business relationships. You need to make sure that those hours really count. The more and more involved you and your business get involved with social media, the more value you will acquire through your connections.
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About the Author.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).