Network and Relationship Building Done Right

Networking is one of the hottest topics in the blogosphere right now, part of a general rush to figure out how business (sales in particular) can relate to the online world.

The most common problem with the rush to networking—online or offline—is the overwhelming desire to treat it as a quick-hit way to transactional selling.  Call it the spammification of new sales ideas.

The truth is simple and evident: blogs and communities and twitter feeds et al have not rewritten the rules of relationships.  They are simply another venue within which to play them out.

Just as email is getting overwhelmed by spam, there is a surfeit of those who collect Linked-In contacts; who enjoy applying the still-latent meaning in the word “friend” to 700 such people on Facebook; and generally those who wish to find a shortcut to relationships and to sales.

Alas, rushing too fast into relationships in cyberspace has exactly the same result as it does in the analog protein world: it achieves the opposite of what was intended.  We resent being hustled, rushed, hit on.  And we react.

Which is why it’s always refreshing to see a sensible treatment of the subject. has a new online guide, called “Face-to-Face Networking Guide: A Primer for Relationship Building.

And it is done right. It gives practical advice on how to network—online or offline—based on some sound, commonsensical ideas about how human beings develop relationships.  This not a piece by Luddites—they know their technology in the new world, but more fundamentally they know how selling of complex services works.

Full disclosure: I’m a Contributing Editor of, they publish some of my articles, and I’ve done a webinar with them.  That’s all because I think they’re pretty darn good at what they do, which is to produce great content about how to sell professional services.  

Give them a look-see.


4 replies
  1. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:

    Couldn’t agree more with you on this one. The people selling online networking (and believe me there are hordes of them) are selling the links, not the relationships. It’s a new form of counting networking coup.

    Amazing how much the language that the online networkers use to hawk things like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is so similar to multi-level marketing language. It boils down to, "I’ve become rich using these things, so you can, too!"

    I do have a question, though, about your full disclosure – and you know I love your work. Do you receive a referral fee if your readers click through and purchase the $79 "online guide" from RainToday?

  2. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Michael, thanks for the thoughts–I had not noted the parallel with multi-level marketing language.  Scary, but it’s surely out there.

    And thanks for the opportunity to clarify about "full disclosure."

    If anyone buys the RainToday guide I reviewed,  I do not receive a cent of it.  Ditto for my webinar with them, or for any articles, or indeed anything I’ve done with them. 

    You’ll notice that there are no commercial sponsors on my site.  I have repeatedly turned down requests for quid pro quo arrangements, even without money attached.  (I may do some ads some day, but I’d be nervous about it, and would welcome advice).

    That’s not coming from an ethical place, much less a  ‘holier than thou’ place, it’s simply a recognition that if I’m going to run a website about trust, and a business that teaches others to become trusted advisors, I need to be cleaner than Caesar’s wife; because for me not to be trusted would be the kiss of death, given the business subject matter.

    I take that to mean it’s OK for me to give referral fees but not to accept them; and in cases where I find some reason to make an exception, to fully disclose it.  Since as yet I haven’t done any such deals, I haven’t had anything to disclose.

    If I recommend or speak positively about something, it’s because I think it’s good.  Period.  Having resolved to do that as a matter of course, I find it really isn’t all that hard a bar to reach.  Not only that, but the degree to which my readers take my comments seriously as a result of it, I figure I’m ahead of the game, not behind it, for adhering to that policy.

    Works for me, anyway. 


  3. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:

    I put that challenge to you in with some considerable degree of thought. I thought of emailing you separately and asking you that question. But, then, I thought, this is the web, and I’ve been reading this guy for quite a while – and the interactive web is about full disclosure, which includes a challenge once in a while.

    Now, I have to admit – I’m awed. We’ve continued to have our own policy of not taking referral fees for our "Hidden Treasures of the Internet." But, with all the people who continue to say to us, "you should" – we’ve been teetering. Not a lot, but, you know, thinking about it.

    So, it’s good to come to our TrustAdvisor and get re-charged. We recently wrote a glowing review of Eventvue. com (a conference social networking service) and ended by saying this: "We do not accept referral fees or payments for any sites mentioned in our blogs, speeches or workshops. We call them exactly like we see them. We do accept “review copies” and “press passes” in order to be able to demonstrate various softwares and sites."

    We’re gonna’ stick with that – and follow you. Thanks and I mean, thanks, Charles.


  4. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Michael, I’m flattered too.  It’s always nice to know someone else out there sees things the same way.  That policy is pretty much how I see it too, though you’ve articulated it more clearly.

    What I find is that behaving this way, paradoxically, generates better branding and trust than trying to hustle for every inch.  It’s interesting that the author I quoted a few posts ago as urging sellers to hide information from customers truly doesn’t believe this is possible, insisting instead that you and others who read this blog are themselves lying. 

    You and I know we’re not, and I suspect we’re not the only ones.  The value of straight transparent talk is not that hard to see, if one is just open to the possibility.



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