Friday, January 14, 2011

The Pink Tips: Ground Networking & The iGame

by Fey Ugokwe, Esq.


So...you've just attended yet another ground networking event (what I affectionately term 'land-based networking' and 'letworking' :), in the midst of your harried day, and pressed sufficient palm/collected enough cards to make even the most extroverted, expert scene-schmoozer a tad jealous. Now you're trotting off into the rest of the noon or eve, belly-full of the usual, purse-or-brief-bag brimming with tens-to-hundreds of various n' sundry brightly-faced business cards (depending upon the type of event you attended)...and a spirit soaring from all that scoring. But...on the way back to your brand of reality, your Blackberry or iPhone is already nagging you that you've got a schedule in the next few minutes n' weeks that has nothing to do with logging in all of those. Calgon, take us all away--What's a 21st-century-networking, net-bound Woman to do?


The answer is: Embrace the 21st Century, Woman--and net them all to your nets!! Um..Get in the iGame, Girl!! Okay...in plain English--don't just shove those cards in a drawer, Diva, waiting for a good time (like Spring)--as some of you have confessed to me that ye do--only to simply place them in some stationery store's version of a Rolodex. That's all well and good for the busy look of your desk, but we live in a time of moments--when information is captured and shared so fast that even the proverbial head-spin can't catch up with it. That means, if you wait until your schedule and spirit seem like they're ready, those potential business contacts will likely have already contacted your competitor(s), and drummed up great business, etc. with themAnd, remember--you never know whether a card could result in a sale, a lead, a referral, or a personal connection--so you're missing out, even before you start, if those sweet little adverts are simply filed away in 'file 13'. 


Additionally, when your contacts relocate to different offices, change companies, etc.--you'll be the first to know, if you can simply click onto your fave social networking site, and read their updates in digital form (impossible to do that from an old card that's dancing around in a rotund, flippy file on your credenza!). And, social networking sites typically provide you the added advantage of seeing who your contact is doing business with--and networking with--as well! And (did you need another one?)--adding biz card contacts to your social networking sites typically also helps you to find out more about the personas behind the placards, e.g., hobbies, talents, etc.--to enable you to decide whether you would like to do business with them, anyway (e.g., 'she likes what movie?? Oh. Um, no.') So, since opportunity sometimes only knocks once--and 21st century opportunity always knocks in stereo--why not capitalize now and completely on all of the potential hidden in that fistful of biz-bounty you just snagged?


Here's how you do it, in the electronic age, and still preserve all of your sanity:


A. For Women With A Little Wad:


1) Shop around on your various social networking sites, chambers of commerce, etc., and hire a Virtual Assistant ("VA");


2) If your VA is local, have her/him pop by and pick up your new batch of business cards, and make that a regular occurrence; if your VA is remote, consider having your Admin. staff use a scanning system, like CardScan, to capture the business card information from your ground networking bounty--and then make certain that your VA has the virtual scan log-in information (the tricked-down version of this is to have your Admin. staff scan the cards on your office scanner/printer, and upload that information to e-mail, to send to your VA);


3) Have your VA invite all of your new business card contacts, via their e-mail addresses, to all of your preferred, business social networking sites, e.g. PPI :), LinkedIn, Facebook (especially if you have a Facebook Page or Group that is dedicated just to your business/organization/association), MySpace, etc. In some cases, you may wish to invite certain contacts only to certain social networking sites, with certain Privacy measures in place--just ensure that your VA knows your sorting preference as regards all of that.


B. For Money-Minded Mavens:


Schedule a day and time--each week!--when your task will be to invite your business card contacts to your preferred social networking site(s). It's tedious, but totally worth it! Don't let them get stale--it'll only depress you. So grab your fave beverage and gnosh--by all means, get comfy; just be mindful as ye do--and get at it gloriously for that allotted, weekly time slot.


So...'Whichever, Whatever'--as the Gen X'ers sometimes still say--just do it/have it be done, Wondrous, networking Women! And remember--if you happen to be sighing whilst reading this--that the 21st century just isn't going anywhere, so your job as a savvy Pinker in this wild, new, ibased world is take a deep breath and harness the net-powers-that-be to your total, targeted advantage. If that doesn't help you, think of it this way: There's a reason why you were born to live in this time, and not at any other--yes? Why is that?? So...you're almost obligated to use the modalities that exist in the timespace around you, correct? Indeed, then! So, enjoy getting igoing, Women--ifollow-up after those letworking extravaganzas--and by all means, have fun whilst you're at it!!!