Many people physically attend networking events in their cities. It is not unusual to notice that groups of people who know each other are standing in the same group or sitting at the same table. Often you can observe individuals who are alone and who are either awkwardly holding a glass of water or pretending to be looking for someone. Perhaps they are shy or perhaps they are egotistical and believe that others should seek them.  Regardless, these people have missed the point of the network event.   They are on the sidelines. Though observing what is happening, they are missing opportunities to expand their networks and develop new personal and business relationships.

Other individuals mingle, moving from group to group proactively introducing themselves and perhaps sharing surface pleasantries or having more in-depth conversations. Regardless, those people are making in-roads in developing new relationships. These people are participators and contributors.  

When we move to the online world, we find the same behavior. We have individuals who actively participate in groups and forums, again either sharing surface pleasantries or having more in-depth discussions. We also find the sideliners/observers– those who stay on the fringes of conversation, either rarely contributing or not contributing at all. Sometimes, these individuals who rarely if at all participate will call their behavior “stealth” as though behaving in that manner is some sort of strategy.  Regrettably, these stealth individuals are also missing opportunities to expand their networks and to brand themselves.

Are you a participator/contributor or are you a sideliner/observer? 

Participators contribute to dialogues in person or online. Sideliners observe and rarely contribute. Perhaps in some situations it is appropriate to be a participator and in others a sideliner. Rarely, will you find an individual who is a participator in person and a sideliner online or vice versa.

If you are a participator, you are planting seeds that will result in building new relationships long term and perhaps new business opportunities. If you are a sideliner, you can expect to have less business and social opportunities because your branding is weakened by your lack of visibility.

If you are going to be authentic in your online presence, then you need to be true to the manner in which you act and participate as well. You need to determine whether you are satisfied with your in person and your online persona. If you are a participator, do you show appropriate restraint and deference to others when needed? If you are a sideliner, do you participate only when pressured?

Ask yourself — what is your in person and online modis operandi and is it working for you? If you are dissatisfied with the results, simply make the decision to change and then change.  It really is just that simple.

 What is your buzz about?