I had a great time at a social gathering of Melbourne tweeters last night that evolved from a simple tweet …
… and gathered speed and momentum with tweeters driving the event and a clever restaurant/pub jumping in to offer to host the night. For most it was a fun time, putting a face to the avatar and getting to know those people we often tweet with but have never met before. However, there was one moment in the evening which reminded me that there is a very fine line between networking and marketing.
A tweeter moved into a circle of people chatting to introduce herself and when someone asked her what her twitter name meant she launched into a speech that sounded remarkably like a pitch. So intent was she on finishing her spiel that when another person moved into the circle of conversation, as happens at parties, and attempted to join in she brushed him off as an interruption to her dialogue.
It was a turn-off. Because it felt like we were being marketed to by an irl spammer.
Social networking at a party is much like social networking on twitter. It’s far more powerful and persuasive if you allow people to get to know you before they get to know your product.
Here are 3 tips for social networking:
1. Leave the pitch at home
Sure it’s absolutely fine to tell people what you do, who you are and why you are passionate but bury that all in a sales-pitch-like-talk and you risk coming across all-used-car-salesman. This might be acceptable at certain business networking functions but at social functions you need to be a little more… well social.
Tweeters who launch tweets of sales direct in your stream generally get ignored. A more subtle approach is recommended. Let people get to know you. Once that trust is established you will find you are foremost in mind when they next need the kind of services you offer.
2. It’s not all about you
Introduce yourself and join in the conversation. Don’t dominate it. By showing interest in others you show your willingness to be a participator.
Sharing, two-way conversation and being involved is ranked highly when tweeters are asked which people they are most likely to follow. Tweeting is about participation. It’s about building dialogue and dynamic relationships. You may have only a few minutes in a social setting or 140 characters in a tweet to make an impression—so make them count.
3. Follow up is important
Take note of people’s names and details at functions and make sure you follow up on the connections you have made as soon as possible. Twitter is a great informal way to do this so if the opportunity is there send a public tweet to the person saying how nice it was to meet them. This follow up friendly-gesture is a second stage connection that allows a relationship to grow.
When tweeting, emailing or Facebooking don’t send any business links with your first message unless expressly requested to do so. If you have set up your accounts with appropriate contact information and links in your bios and signatures the person you are connecting with can get a sense of your services for themselves without feeling that a friendly connection was really a sales drive in disguise.
Enjoy yourself at social gatherings and always look for opportunities to network and share, but never forget the social part of social networking.
Being ‘social’ has a lot to do with appropriateness. Uninvited pitches erode trust. And without trust I have no reason to want to be a consumer of your services.