Imagine you are at a breakfast networking meeting. You go over and grab a coffee and as you are standing there, someone comes along and says ‘Hello!’
Do you politely tell them to ‘go away’ or do you say ‘hello’ back and start a conversation?
I recently did the equivalent online and I got a reply that effectively said ‘Do I know you?’
Imagine I was a potential customer and I came up and said ‘Hello!’ online to this person? How would this person ever know until at least engaging in a conversation. While engaging with this person and showing interest it turned out that I was in fact a potential client.
Some people will only talk to people they already know. I call that ‘Closed networking’. Others are seeking to get to know new people and are open to conversations with new people. I call that ‘Open networking’.
If you are using online networking to just stay in touch then Closed networking is fine. If you are using it for business development then you need to be prepared to say hello to lots of people. Just like in the offline world, some you will like and some you will not like. Some will be time wasters and some will lead you to your biggest client ever!
Remember this rhymn – You never know until you say hello!