Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Anita Campbell interview – CEO and Editor of Small Business Trends

Anita Campbell is CEO of a media business called Small Business Trends, which provides information, articles, audio content and associated consulting services focusing on the small business market and business trends affecting that market.

Her flagship website is the award-winning Small Business Trends, named to the Forbes Best of the Web. Anita also is a prolific writer with articles and columns published at Inc Technology, BNET, Work.com and a variety of other sites and newsletters. She is the host of Small Business Trends Radio, broadcast over the Internet.

She is a recognized expert about the small business market and business trends, her opinion is widely sought and she has been quoted over 50 times in magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and MSNBC.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Anita Campbell: Business networking to me means opening up yourself to the wider world, and to new experiences, through meeting new people.

I emphasize the phrase “opening up” because I firmly believe that to network effectively you have to make yourself as accessible as possible — by phone, published email addresses, website contact forms, networking websites, Skype, you name it.

These days I do 80% of my networking online. Online networking is efficient. You can reach a wider number of people much faster that way. By making yourself more accessible online, more people can connect with YOU if they choose to, also.

I use a variety of methods to network online: my blogs; my Internet radio show/podcast; LinkedIn.com; Facebook.com; and JumpUp.com — just to name some. Most importantly, I visit and comment on other people’s blogs. That’s probably the best way to meet business people and make connections.

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of networking online, fearing it may be too impersonal, keep in mind that we are all getting more and more used to communicating electronically. People do not interpret electronic communication as being quite as impersonal or offputting as they may have 5 years ago. Electronic communication is becoming more widely accepted.

Josh: Anita, can you share one or two ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Anita Campbell: While I am a big believer in online networking for today’s professionals, that does not mean I dislike personal relationships or want to be emotionally distant.

Here are two pointers for bringing warmth and personal attention to your online networking connections:

(1) Remember to focus on one-on-one communications with people, even if your communications are electronic. At least that way the other people know you are reaching out specifically to them — and not trying to make your online networking some mass distribution list where you deal with everyone like one more in the crowd.

For instance, I try to soften the “long distance” effect by individual email correspondence, instant messaging, text messaging, and, of course, phone calls.

(2) Another key method to soften the long-distance effect and to supplement your online networking, is to make a point to meet up in person with your online contacts when you travel or attend local events.

For instance, I often will write on my blog when I am going to be attending an event, and invite others to look me up and say “hi.” If traveling to a distant city, I will contact my closest connections ahead of time and arrange a dinner or lunch with them.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Anita Campbell: Recently I have had a nice email and commenting exchange with Tim Berry, the founder of Palo Alto Software, makers of BusinessPlan Pro. But for blogging and visiting one another’s blogs, I probably would never have had that opportunity. I would have missed the value of his wisdom and experience, and the rich color he brings in his opinions and ideas.

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  • Anita Campbell

    Josh, thank you for the opportunity to speak to your audience and share some of my thoughts.

    I really appreciate what you are doing on your blog. It’s very smart of you to seek out other voices to participate. And I also know that it takes time and commitment on your part, with no expectation of any return other than a job well done. Again — many many thanks!

    Best,
    Anita

  • Josh Hinds

    Anita, thanks for the kind words. I truly appreciate it. You shared some terrific advice and I know that everyone who reads and puts into action the ideas you shared will benefit as a result.

    Appreciatively, Josh 🙂