Business networking sites are a great way to connect with people that have similar businesses to yours. It is an easy way to learn of how they got through their rough times, or maybe even go and make collaboration effort if you feel that the person and the timing is right. However, these business networking sites are similar to forums and blogs – there is a netiquette involved, and if one wants to prove worthy of being on that particular business networking site, he should prove that he can abide to those particular rules.
When we are discussing about small business networking sites (usually those built for niche businesses, so people can narrow down their searches) the rules tend to apply less, mostly because the community is smaller and it is easy to get over mistakes. The thing is, and I will restate something I mentioned two phrases ago – you need to make an impression, you cannot play the know-it-all and you surely cannot play the little kid that asks why at just about everything.
Let us see what are the do’s and don’t of business networking sites.
Do your homework:
Remember that business networking sites are built for business owners, or for people that want to find out more about businesses in that particular niche. Try not to mistake it for a social networking site – make sure you know what is discussed within each of them, and avoid being too social. While you can be friendly on the appropriate topic do not deviate with personal issues or things that have nothing to do with the subject.
Respect the users around you:
While some users may be rude, or may push that know-it-all attitude we all hate, it does not mean you have to start a war with them. Doing so will only affect your image on that forum. If you plan on making useful connections and finding out new things about what it means to own a business, then temper your attitude and apply the live and let live technique. Whatever happens, try solving your problem via private message or by ignoring any annoying issue. You will notice that it will make a real difference.
Know how to deal with the people there:
With any niche forum, there are three types of users – the shameless self promoter, the critic, the know-it-all and the genuine user. Avoid being any of the first three, and avoid them on the forum too. The first will seem to spam you with his business and ideas all the time – the individual might only have two fixed ideas, but he will be sure to get his message through.
The critic will find everything you say ridiculous, obsolete – he is the hip business owner, he knows “everything” about the new business technique and does not avoid making everyone around them stupid. The know-it-all is my personal “favorite” – while he may actually be a useful resource of information, he will send the info in such a way, that you will feel like banning him as soon as possible.
The genuine user is the one that shares both questions and information, know to handle a situation when he is caught with his guard down, and delivers his information in a useful manner.