I’ve always been VERY skeptical of sites like LinkedIn, Jigsaw and others, which build a community of thousands of contacts that you can find and leverage for sales or other things. Usually they work on the model of “6 degrees of separation”. You find a seller at Wal-Mart who you want to reach. Ideally one of your contacts is connected with that seller in some way.
The WSJ writes Ms. Shukla’s secret? Software tools and online services that help her generate sales leads without the usual legwork and the often-inefficient cold calling. For instance, she used an online social-networking service to get a foot in the door at Tower and Ritz. The service, from LinkedIn Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., allowed her to search through lists of her contacts’ contacts for potential leads. When she found names at Tower and Ritz, mutual acquaintances gave her an introduction.
The secret for making these services work is to find the right contact who can introduce you to the contact you need. I find that many people send me template emails “Ramon, join my network….”. I’ve stopped reading the emails as I wonder if the person has taken the time to really know ME and who I am?
I’ve found that Fast Company Magazine’s Company of Friend’s online discussion group is very useful. I’ve met many a valued business friend here.
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