Online Networking Archives - Page 7 of 7 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Should You Network on the Net?

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research about online networking. And the more I read (and work on the net), the more I realize that if you’re in business today, you definitely need to be on the net (in addition to good, old-fashioned, face-to-face networking)! The problem is, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture and marketplace have been born in only a few short years. This has left many business owners at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the internet and their business.

If you’re finding it hard to grasp ways to utilize the net to network your business, spend some time checking out social networking sites (particularly business-related ones such as Ecademy.com and LinkedIn), along with various bulletin board and chat room communities. These sites and communities allow people to connect on a regular basis, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. By browsing through some of these sites, you’ll get an idea of how others are using the net to build social capital and promote their businesses, and you’ll no doubt come up with some ideas of how to do the same for yourself.

The internet flattens the communication hierarchy while broadening people’s access to ideas, information, products and services. Understanding how to network on the net is quickly becoming a must. I’d recommend starting out by Googling “social networking sites”–and then start clicking!

Networking Group Basics

I’m aware that it’s not just the networking die-hards who may be reading my blog, and I wanted to post something that I think is very important for networking newbies. (Don’t worry, it’s a good refresher for you die-hards as well.) When you’re just starting out in the networking world, finding a networking group can sometimes be intimidating and confusing, but it really doesn’t have to be. For those of you looking to join a networking group, here are some networking group basics.

There are at least seven types of business networking organizations to consider joining to develop your business through networking. Depending on your time constraints, you should select at least two or three groups to participate in. There are:

  • Casual contact networks. These allow many people from overlapping professions and meet monthly.
  • Strong contact networks. Their primary purpose is exchanging referrals. They meet weekly.
  • Community service clubs. They provide an opportunity to give back to the community you do business in while making contacts and getting PR.
  • Professional associations. They tend to focus on one specific industry. The primary purpose is to exchange information and ideas)
  • Social/business organizations. They combine social activities with business or networking.
  • Online networks. Includes groups such as Ecademy, LinkedIn and Ryze, which are social networks for businesses.
  • Women’s business organizations. They are non-threatening groups for women to increase business. Many also allow men.

Don’t let chance decide where you’re going to spend your time and effort. Diversify your activities and consciously select a well-rounded mix of organizations. If you have associates, partners or employees, consider their participation when deciding which groups each of you will target.

Graphic Designers Love a ‘Logo-Ectomy’

I am absolutely convinced that some people believe a logo can be changed on a whim! I was reading another blog recently and came across some interesting comments about my company, BNI. The graphic designer said on her blog (referring to BNI), “…the organization is wonderful, they do great work, but their logo is SO ’80s… really needs to be punched up and brought into the new world!”Of course, since the company started in 1985, she made an assumption that the logo was done in the ’80s. It wasn’t.  It was designed in the mid ’90s, with a minor revision around 2002 [and a major revision to the “overall” branded look again in 2011 by an international graphic design company].  Her comments really got me thinking about some other major brands and their logos, some of which haven’t changed very much or at all for almost 100 years!

Take a look at some of these logos: Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney and IBM. These babies haven’t changed for many, many, years. Talk about “so ’80s“…what about ’60s? Anybody for ’50s, ’40s… or turn of the century.

Coca-Cola

You see, the secret to branding is not about being pretty, sexy or modern; it’s about credibility and identity. Within my company, BNI, we have been building a brand for more than two decades. When I started the company in the early ’80s, we had an entirely different logo. I made changes every couple of years until I learned about the need to be consistent, to establish a brand and leave the logo alone!

McDonalds

We adopted what we use now in the mid-’90s with that minor revision in 2002 and a major revision in 2011.  It is currently a registered trademark in almost three dozen countries! To change the logo and branded look “again” would be a major undertaking, not to mention a great way to dilute my brand recognition in all those countries. That is exactly what you do when you mess with your logo…Coca-Cola knows this, McDonald’s knows this, IBM and Disney know this. Changing a logo for an international company is not just changing brochures and signs. It involves major trademark issues with international repercussions.  Most graphic designers don’t fully understand what a monumental undertaking it is to change or alter trademarks globally.  It is very, very complex, time consuming and expensive.

Disney

You see, there is a difference between being up-to-date with your marketing materials and changing your main identity in the marketplace. Most people have their own opinions about what looks good and what doesn’t look good. All I know is that when people see a company’s logo, they are going to immediately identify with that company. That is the goal of branding with a logo. I’m not talking about an unprofessional logo; there are some logos that NEED to be changed for many reasons. But when you are talking about a company with a logo that has worked in dozens of countries around the world–well, the logo might not be a real problem. Making changes just to “update” the look is not good business unless there is an important reason to let people know that it is a new and improved company–new management, new focus or new mission. Barring that, it’s a bad idea, and experienced graphic designers (especially those with global brands as a client) know that.

IBM

Oh, sorry, I’ve got to take a call…a web designer thinks I need to revise this website!

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All brands, product names, company names, trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Fast Pitch Networking

In my monthly column on Entrepreneur.com, I wrote about the 5 Ways To Break Into Online Networking. One of the things I recommended was to “join one or more online networking communities.”

There are a lot out there to choose from today. However, there’s a new one on the web that I’m impressed with. It’s called FastPitchNetworking.com. It has many of the same features most online networks have, such as the ability to create a profile, and promote your website, blog and professional services, as well as the ability to connect with other people in the program. However, it has some new features, and one in particular that I really like.

The feature that I haven’t seen on any other online network is the press release program. Becoming a Premium Member for as little as $9 a month allows you to post unlimited press releases to 20 media outlets (including Google and Yahoo) that will promote your press release across the internet. Most PR services charge much more than that (believe me, I know).

In addition, members of the service have the ability to send their release to 50,000 members at a time and can choose which 50,000 to send to by industry, type and/or geography. FastPitch is the only social network that allows its members to leverage the network in this way.

I tried the service out just prior to International Networking Week to promote networking events around the world. Within a couple of days, I saw my press release promoted on Google and Yahoo!

I recommend my readers take a look. Click here for information on the press release program. For general information, click here.

I’d love to hear about your experiences on this online network and others.

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