Learning to network

December 4, 2008

Growing by blogging

Filed under: career, Learning, Manage my network, Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media — Tags: , , , , , — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 5:15 pm

Inspired by a discussion with Karin H. on her 1 plus 1 makes 3 blog about using blogging to grow, I started to think about all the things you can grow with a blog:

  1. To grow your own personal understand of a subject.
  2. According to Yogi Tea “To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach” – in other words the act of writing what you have learned consolidates it in your own knowledge. And of course in blogging the fact you share it with others is simply an act of generosity

  3. To grow your own personal awareness of the world
  4. This starts from the similar point 1 above, except that it leads blogging from monologue into dialogue. Your participation in the blogosphere, groups and lists means that you are interacting with the topic of your attention, and with other sharing similar interests, so your growth of understanding is accelerated.

  5. To grow a community of like-minded individuals
  6. This extends from point 2 to focus exclusively on a given topical area, and many people share the podium instead of one. This either becomes a group blog or it could be based on other media such as mail lists.

  7. To grow your own individual career
  8. Rather than focussing on self-education under point 2, this becomes more informative and the conversations exploratory.  This is of course the art of personal branding, where you turn yourself into a thought leader in your chosen subject by sharing your wisdom (at least that which you’re prepared to give away for free) and nurturing communications with people in your same field

  9. To grow your own business
  10. This could be similar to 1 or 2, but the objective is more commercially oriented.

  11. To grow the market’s awareness of your business proposition
  12. Like the personal branding in point 4, this is the commercial branding that helps get your message out.

  13. To grow a community around loyal customers and interested prospects
  14. Perhaps this is the true way forward for growing your business by blogging. You give your prospects free information to help them make their choice. This encourages you to distinguish yourself by making your proposition more enticing or even “remarkable”. And at the same time you nurture a community that includes existing customers as well as potential customers, who can all give you very direct feedback about what they want, what they have liked, and what they would love more of.

Of course all this potential for growth relies on people making time to share their ideas with others, so there is a cost. But if you think about the nature of the relationships you can build within the micro-communities that form around you, that sounds like an excellent investment in your future.


March 13, 2008

Tell me again, why have I been nurturing my network?

Filed under: Manage my network — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:56 am

So I didn’t leave it until the last minute when I needed help, I grew and tended my network whilst the sun shone.
And I knew that one day the time would come when I needed to get something back from my network . . .
Now that day is here, how do I go about it?

In a great article, well worth keeping for that rainy day, Kent Blumberg explains some excellent tips on How to ask for help from your network, including:

  • improving the chances that someone in your network will give you precisely the information you need
  • ensuring that your request is received happily and painlessly by members of your network, so they become even more receptive to your requests for help in the future.

March 7, 2008

Where are you and what are you up to?

Filed under: Manage my network, Privacy, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:43 pm

I learned about new “location brokering” services such as Mk Loki and
Yahoo’s FireEagle through a thread in the LinkedInBloggers group. The following article gives a brief intro, in case this is a new idea to you: Information Brokering: MyLoki provides granular control of your location – O’Reilly Radar

Through the discussion it seemed that online business networkers would find this kind of information valuable, so that they could take those rare opportunities for face-to-face meetings when they suddenly found themselves to be in the same part of the world as someone else in their network. However the disadvantages appeared to be in planning a meeting with sufficient notice to get a common slot of free time.

This is where I considered the possibility of allowing your future personal free-busy information to be viewed by your network, along with your projected location – that way a system can easily hook you up with close matches amongst your first degree connections. And to be more sophisticated you could indicate which areas of your personal network were “hottest” for you right now, so it would allow a slightly more “fuzzy” match. After all, you might be prepared to switch your appointments or travel a little out of your way to go and see someone who’s in a line of business you’re particularly into right now.

Interesting idea but it begs the question, would you be prepared to publish information to your trusted business network about where you are planning to be and when you might be free?

January 26, 2008

Sharing with others does NOT take away from yourself

Filed under: career, Manage my network, Privacy, think positive — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 10:17 am

I found some excellent market research yesterday that could well help me find work in the future. I wanted to post it to my technology-related blog, but I had strong reservations about actually publishing it (Look who’s been doing my market research for me). “But should I share useful information with my competitors?”, went my self-protective thoughts. “Other people I know are effectively in competition with me for roles, so I should keep this to myself.”

Fortunately I published it anyway, and this morning I realised why this was the RIGHT thing to do. Even if my ex-colleagues are in the same sector as me, offering similar services, and aiming at similar prospective companies, this can still be an advantage to me.

You see I am me, with a different personality, different characteristics, different experience and a different approach from other people I know. If its the right role for me, it is quite possibly not right for the other person, so I would be more likely to get the work. Likewise, if it’s right for the other person and doesn’t really suit me, then why would I want to be doing it anyway? Because we are unique individuals we are not actually direct competitors, and have nothing to fear from each other.

What’s more, by sharing openly with others, when I find a role that doesn’t quite suit me, I could easily recommend that the other person goes for it instead. And because what goes around comes around, other people I know, and who I share openly with, are more likely to approach me if they find a role that they are not ideally suited to. So we continue to help each other, not compete with each other.

Helping each other and sharing is always a better approach than “us and them” – it enriches everyone.

January 21, 2008

How LinkedIn helps you strengthen your network, even by chance

Filed under: LinkedIn, Manage my network, Social Media — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:08 am

Scott Allen recently wrote about the way he likes LinkedIn because it helps him make fortunate discoveries by accident – Serendipity, Or Why LinkedIn Really Works

I could not agree more about the way “chance” discoveries help me strengthen my network. And I think this is one of the great reasons to maintain a quality network of trusted business colleagues, rather than casually connecting with open-networking link seekers.

I feel I get a great deal of value for the time I spend “casually browsing” my own extended network. When I successfully connect to someone, I find it’s useful to peruse those people they have brought me as new second degree connections. And it’s often interesting to note who is adding new connections and occasionally who they are.

Its not just that I can develop a better understanding of the industries and markets (my current ones, and others). I actually develop a better understanding of who I know out there, what they are up to and how we are intertwined. Its like being able to see the wiring under the covers, and realising how it all comes together.

And of course spending time nurturing my network can only help it grow – in strength as well as numbers.

October 28, 2007

Your terms of reference can cover all your networking activities

Filed under: Manage my network, Publishing, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 2:04 am

One of the things that I realised very early on in my blogging experience, is that its important to stay focussed (especially when you put pen to paper “creatively”). Encouraged by the value of having clear terms of reference set out for my professional engagements, I decided that having such clearly mandated objective was a very positive way of keeping my blogging on track, and consistent for readers too.

Recent articles from Dennis McDonald have enforced this idea, but shown that they can also extend to other parts of our online social interaction. Rather than explicit guidelines about what is in or out of scope for a particular blog, he shows what kind of interactions he encourages in each of his online social channels A Map of My Online Networking Tools: Part 1. Naturally, these two definitions can start to overlap, giving a list of which channel is preferred for what, and what are the typical constraints you would put on communications in any of these channels. I’m not saying you need to formalise all of these definitions in writing, but if you decide to yourself what is acceptable and encouraged and where, it can help you stay focussed in this world of increasing choice, where there are myriad tools for any given task you might have, and where our time becomes increasingly precious.

Facebook is not just a social network, more a Web 2.x platform

Filed under: Manage my network, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 1:22 am

I have been reading a number of article discussing “social networking fatigue”. Unfortunately I have been slow to catch up on them, finding the odd moment in the wee small hours – and that’s the point … too much to do, too many networks to maintain.

However, this lines me up nicely for one of my standard excuses as to why I’m still not even in the mass adoption phase with Facebook. I could pull up a number of other excuses, but of course the old “four young kids and day job to hold down” is still my favourite.

However good I am at swimming against the tide, however, there is one fact about facebook that I can’t deny is _very_ appealing. Extensibility! What moves it from a Web 2.0 social network to a web 2.x environment (I’m not gonna count my web 3.0 chickens before they’re hatched) is the fact that is has become a “platform”. This all comes down to the fact that Facebook opened up “API” accessibility to it a few months back. This effectively means that instead of all our wonderful information on profiles, groups, connections, etc being locked in (like in LinkedIn), it can be accessed by anyone with the right widget, or sufficient determination to write a new widget for their intended purpose.

Now as much as this customised access is putting a strain on the servers and the Facebook code, it does mean that you can start to do things that you wouldn’t have thought possible until just before some bright spark made them work. Errrr, is it called leveraging? Or is it called creating a brave new world?

Anyhow, enough eulogising – find out some examples of how you can “leverage this Web 2.x platform” (can’t believe I actually wrote that!) by reading Facebook as a Learning Platform on Paul Coyne’s blog, or better still, spend inordinate amounts of your precious time in the world of profiles, personal associations, pokes and now platforms for profitable interaction.

May 29, 2007

Realising the value – THE END of the beginning

On the 19th February my online business networking paid off.

Well, by the time the invoice got sorted it was much later than that, but the point is that an ex-colleague of an ex-colleague to asked meet me, then offered me a busy role that kind of didn’t allow time for learning to network.

Well, I have still carried on networking when feasible, but I have not had time for the luxury of researching and reporting on the topic. However I have learned so much by sharing this experience that I am determined to apply many of the publishing and marketing skills on something that is close enough to my day job to make it compatible and feasible


Look me up on




February 8, 2007

I finally know how to introduce myself

Filed under: Manage my network, Self-marketing, Social Media — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 4:56 am

I have just come across something very curious, but oddly enough it really does work. 15SecondPitch is a site with a little five step wizard that guides you through creating yourself a personal introduction. And amazingly enough it comes out just like they promise – concise, compelling and conversational. OK I will admit that the first one I did was only about 80% compelling, but that’s still about 75% more than if I had tried to make one up myself! But I am sure they will only get better as try more, or edit this first one.

One thing I couldn’t understand whilst stepping through the wizard filling in the boxes was “how on earth are they going to turn this into a concise pitch?”. But then, after the 5th step, it displays a simulated business card with the pitch written on it. It was word for word what I had written – my answers from the five steps one after another. Obviously the clever bit is in the way they structure and ask the questions, and it seems to work like magic.

Now the site does have a few other features for “networking” (searching and connecting) between the users. This seems somewhat out of place, in my mind, although I can kind of see why they are trying to do this. I know this sounds like “oh my goodness – yet another profile!” but with powerful little pitches like this, it helps you evaluate the other people on the system very quickly indeed.

Incidentally, they have a “google yourself” box on their homepage and I was amazed to see that my simple name brings up my LinkedIn profile at number 6, and with my middle initial in, I get #1 ranking with my Squidoo lens. Wow, that’s so powerful that I had better get on and put some decent content in there.

But hey, both alternatives of my name give me first page ranking. Who’d have thought it, hey. Personal Branding, here I come 🙂

February 5, 2007

Download a great online business networking book for free!

Filed under: Learning, Manage my network, Publishing, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:53 pm

Tidying up some odds and ends I came across this link. “Oh my goodness!” … I can’t believe I never posted it here before. I have just checked, and although I have mentioned Scott Allen and a couple of his blog posts, I have never mentioned his book “The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online”.

This is a great introduction to online business networking, and it carefully explains a whole range of social networking tools and techniques. For the beginner it is a valuable companion, but even if you already know about “web 2.0” tools, his summary of the features and benefits still helps put them into perspective, and maybe give you a new view on something you had previously taken for granted.

And the best thing of all is that, for the time being at least, he has published the PDF to download for free. Well worth the read – Get “The Virtual Handshake” Free!

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