Networking has mattered since the dawn of business. Nobody's going to deny that.
But never has there been such ample opportunity to network as now, with so many high-tech social networks rampant on the internet. It's become a case of "too much of a good thing"—there's too many social networks. For that reason, many people avoid them altogether. This is a mistake. There are many benefits to engaging in these websites: besides personal uses like finding old friends, their professional uses are plentiful. It makes it easy to stay connected to seldom-seen business acquaintances, helps develop new business relationships, and makes your presence (as either an individual or an organization) better known publicly.
Yet, any successful business knows the importance of efficiency. Wasting time is not an option for many tight-budgeted startups, and it's definitely not the preferred route to walk even for larger firms that can experiment on trial and error.
Techvibes has completed its assembling four lists: The Best Social Networking Sites, The Worst Social Networking Sites, The Downright Awful Networking Sites, and—last but definitely not least—this very list, Sites That Will Maximise Your Online Networking.
View the list after the jump.
Sites That Will Maximise Your Online Networking
Sharing your content.
1. AddThis. A simple but powerful tool that allows you to put one of its buttons on your blog posts, website pages—just about anything that can take some basic HTML. Then, AddThis does all the work. A reader can click it once, and with a second click, share your content with any of his social networks. AddThis covers dozens, if not hundreds, of social outlets. The flow of incoming potential networkers will expand without you putting forth any time or effort.
2. StumbleUpon. Add a bar to your web browser and receive content and topic-based recommendations, pulling you closer to potential networkers you're on the hunt for.
3. Del.icio.us. A site based on bookmarks. But because these bookmarks aren't built into your web browser, they'll be accessible from any browser on any computer. It's also a huge content resource, which means you can utilize it to get your content known, and thus, get you known to others.
4. Digg. A massive, content-sharing database that is great for getting your content known, and thus, getting you known to others.
Notes: These are three of the top sites that AddThis will connect to, and users in general (whether or not they, or you, are utilizing AddThis). It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with these sites, so that if you're tracking metrics on them handling your content, you can better analyze their value to your specific web of networks, and judge if they're worth pursuing as a channel with which to invest time in.
For example, StumbleUpon can create links for your content pages. Do you want your readers to use the Stumble bar that will appear on Stumble-based link directs? Or would you rather the Hootsuite bar? Perhaps a non-invasive URL shortener without a bar? And Digg is a massive content sharing site, but is it worth monitoring? Perhaps your content stream is low, and you just want to connect directly with other humans. In that case, it's value is much lower than those looking to attract other networkers via links and feeds.
Streamlining your network.
Notes: All three of these websites offer similar services in different ways. Each one takes multiple social networks and enables you to publish content to multiple streams at once. Have an event you need to mention? Why not do so on three or four networks simultaneously? Research each of these and decide which one bests suits your personal needs, based on your primary networks and your networking goals.
For example, Hootsuite is Twitter-based. It can handle a lot more quite well, but if your networking tactics rely heavily on your tweeting, Hootsuite will go above and beyond the call of duty to maximise your experience.
The Next Level.
8. Skype. Conference calls and video chats will take long-distance business relationships to that next level. Perfect for meetings while one or more parties are travelling or doing business out of town. The basic Skype service is free, safe, and secure.
9. Oovoo. Allows up to six people to engage in video calls, enabling a conference call that very closely mimics an in-person table meeting. The basic service is free.
Notes: Tossing back and forth direct messages on Twitter and emails are great ways to start a professional relationship. Even public outlets like Twitter conversations in your feed are good, because they'll also invite others to chime in. But eventually, you need to take it beyond that. You need to hear the person's voice, see their face. Humans are emotional, and will remember and like people more whom they've talked to "face-to-face"—even if your face is just on their computer screen. It's a transition into a real-life meeting, and from there, who knows where your network can take you!