Connecting in 2010

According to Maribeth Kuzmeski in Just My E-Pinion, if you are looking for ways to increase your bottom line without increasing your budget, the secret lies in your ability to connect.

In today’s business world, social networking can’t be ignored. The author notes that we promote products on Facebook, network through LinkedIn, and get news updates via Twitter. However, while social networking is a great way to connect, it’s easy to forget that what you’re aiming for are meaningful connections.

While everyone else works the social media craze, Kuzmeski says it’s time for you to slow down and consider what really brings success. It’s probably not tweeting 100 times per day, or having 500 contacts in your LinkedIn network.

Kuzmeski says 2010 is the year of the connector. The connections you make, and the relationships you build, will be the true game changers. Here are her six tips:

1. Improve your social networking skills

Just like your real-life relationships, you should be picky about whom you connect with online. Choose to connect with people who have similar interests or who are working in your particular field. And when someone you know, want to know, or need to know, connects with you online, you should always reciprocate.

2. Remember: It’s quality, not quantity

You can actually be more successful if you use your social media time to revamp the connections you already have by making them more meaningful and personal.

3. True connections happen eye to eye

Just because there are a lot of new and improved ways to connect with people doesn’t mean you should rule out good old-fashioned, face-to-face contact. If you want to really connect with people, it is important to make it a priority to schedule face time.

4. Be a voicemail nonconformist

Treat your voicemail messages like an actual conversation. Keep them short and sweet and stay on point. Practice your message before calling to make sure it is compelling! Say something unexpected that may get the listener’s attention. Have lots of energy and enthusiasm when you call. Be sure to give the recipient a reason why he or she should call you back.

5. Build your own “Harvard Network” 

People who have gone to high-status schools like Harvard typically look out for one another. So what do you do if you didn’t go to a prestigious school? The principles are the same for any network of people. Those with similar interests, backgrounds, commonality, and relationships will look out for each other, work with each other, and help each other.

So if you don’t already have a network, find one! Join a community group, alumni group, or industry group, and get involved. Create advocates and make yourself a known entity in the group through your activism.

6. Create your powerful connections list

Create a list of at least 20 potentially powerful connections. Now you know who to reach out to. It isn’t a thousand people. It is a manageable 20 who will, in turn, connect you to others.

No matter what method you choose to use for making connections this year, the important thing is that you keep connecting. Remember, improving your connecting skills costs nearly nothing, but pays off in many ways. It is a surefire way for you to take your business to the next level in 2010!