Blogging & Networking
Is blogging the new networking? Are we more likely to conduct business with people we share dinner with at the Churchill Club or those we get to know through blogging? I've been blogging since January and I haven't done any business or met face-to-face with anyone that I've gotten to know in the blogsphere. But that said, I have gotten to know a number of entrepreneurs, investors and other generally interesting people through blogging. On the other hand, I've certainly set many appointments for myself and others by making the rounds through the Silicon Valley networking scene. Nonetheless, the comparison isn't totally fair because I've been attending SDForum events a lot longer that I have been blogging.
Should blogging be the new networking? Meeting someone in person is a more powerful experience than a single comment or link but overtime I think that blogging can build stronger relationships. Participating in the blogsphere provides a so much more information than chatting over a cocktail at SVASE. In person networking definitely provides more instant gratification and I think it would be quite strange to follow up on an initial blog comment with an email to the post's author asking for an appointment, introduction or favor. However, in the long run networking through blogs may be more effective because by reading someone's blog you can really get to know what they are interested in. Furthermore, by commenting on and linking to their blog, they are likely to get to know more about you... Networking gets pretty darn effective when you know what the other person wants and they know who you are. It seems to me that blogging may be becoming the more effective way to network.
Some common sense rules would seem to apply in the blogsphere and much like in person networking the big fish are going to be harder to reach. For example, if you happen to meet Don Valentine, he's probably already gotten 10 business cards that day and I bet his calendar is booked 6 months out so its going to be tough to get a meeting with him. Similarly, if you'd like to get to know Michael Arrington one or two comments on TechCrunch isn't likely to get you a lunch appointment. It is possible to reach these people but its going to be difficult without an existing connection. Yet the more often one reaches out to people through comments or links and the more information one puts out there about themselves through their own writing the more likely they are to build strong relationships across the blogsphere.
Also, I suspect that effective networking bloggers (as with traditional networkers) will focus on building relationships and helping others more than seeking immediate personal gain.