Seriously, get out a pen and piece of paper (or cut and paste this list into a document) and TAKE THE TEST: twenty-five questions to help you determine whether you should invest your time online networking.
1. In how many off-line organizations or causes are you currently active?
2. Are you active locally, nationally, regionally?
3. How do you fit into those organizations? Are you a leader? Or are you just a member because it looks good on your resume? Peer pressure? Obligation?
4. Are you a thought leader? Do you contribute articles or presentations to their programming?
5. Do you attend meetings regularly or just when it’s convenient?
6. Do you have a pattern of participation? Seasonal? When you’re not busy?
7. How does your participation fit into the big picture?
8. Is it rewarding? Personally? Financially? Spiritually?
9. Are you there because it is an extension of your practice? Your family life?
10. Are you there out of service to the community? The arts? The sciences?
11. What are you giving and how does that compare to what you are getting in return?
12. How much time, energy, and resources do you commit to each of those organizations or causes? Is it enough, too much or too little to make a difference?
13. What time of day or night does most of your activity occur? Does it fit into your schedule naturally or is it a chore that you abhor?
14. If you could change time, energy, resources what would it look like?
15. Do you think you’re over involved and therefore can’t give quality attention to any one of the opportunities?
16. How much capacity do you have to get involved in other groups, causes, and organizations?
17. Are you still looking for something more effective?
18. What do you do when you attend the event?
19. Are you good at follow up?
20. Do you use your involvement as a stepping-stone to developing deeper relationships that lead to business overtly or tangentially?
21. What % of your business do you get as a result of your participation?
22. In the organizations you are most active, can you identify the audience in a few words?
23. Are most of the people like you?
24. Is it the right audience?
25. Do you believe you should be somewhere else but don’t have the capacity or will to change direction?
Now look at your answers. This is your benchmark of who, what, where, when and how. Adding an online social network to your mix may be a way to enhance, supplement or kick-start your marketing efforts.
It’s not smart (or possible) to join every club, organization, or social cause in your city, so, why should you join all of them all on line? Be selective. Either mirror what’s working off line or use online to try something new.
If you don’t have a clear brand or an organized message, get your house in order before you jump into online or offline networking. It will be much more beneficial to you AND to the community you join.