It's not what you know, but who you know.
We've all heard that adage before. But I'm hear to tell you, it doesn't even matter "who you know", if they aren't willing to help you.
So the more prudent statement is "It's not what or who you know, but what will who you know do for you."
Try saying that ten times fast.
The Numbers Don't Matter
On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, or any other network, it seems that people are running around trying build numbers. How many can I get and how quickly can I get them?
Unfortunately, the numbers don't matter, if none of those friends or followers will act on your behalf.
It IS About Trust, Influence, and Leadership
Effective networking is about influence. It's about building trust and about getting others to believe you are who you say you are . In essence, it's about leadership.
And because the ultimate purpose of networking is to get others to take action (how ever you may define that action), it's about getting them to BELIEVE in you.
So, how then, do you effectively build a network? How do you get others to trust and believe in you?
Is it through Social Media tools? Is it via face-to-face "networking" meetings? Or can you do it through others methods?
The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES! You can build your network via any form of communication that you choose, face-to-face, telephone, email, social media, radio, tv, or any other form of communication that you can think of. The system isn't the key - what and how you say it is. And the most effective networks are built on the foundation of interactive communication - not broadcast communication. Which means that not only do you have to be able to talk or write, but also, listen, read, . . . and empathize.
And in spite of every one out there telling you that you can build an effective online network overnight "by taking their advice" or by using their tool, it's simply not true. Don't buy into their lies or their gimmicks.
Networking, effective networking where you can both trust and be trusted by the people in your "group", takes time, commitment and a lot of elbow grease. You have to be willing to talk to people, learn about them, understand them, give and take in the relationship, and of course be trustworthy. Or you will end up with a lot of acquaintances - and very few friends that will act on your behalf.
So, stop just looking at the numbers in your network - numbers don't tell the whole truth. Instead, start looking at the effectiveness of your network, and that requires you to honestly assess how much influence you have over your network of friends, or how little.