How effective is virtual business networking?

While there are many like LinkedIn, RyzeFriendster, Spoke, EntreMate, Facebook and the list goes on……how do you decide which is the best business networking site for you? Once you decide that, how do you determine who you should include in your network? It can be overwhelming to register on some of these sites and make the necessary connections. The idea behind these sites is to have a “warm” contact. The “six degrees of separation” supposedly makes one feel a little better about connecting with another person that is 3-4 or possibly more connections down along the networking chain. Odd sentiment but, it exists.

I suppose there is some merit in the idea of networking this way but I can’t imagine that everyone would be comfortable connecting with you when they are not too sure of your intentions. Are they looking to build a large base of contacts so that they can say brag about having one or, is it purely to make a business connection with individuals in your network? Then, the question is, what if they are competitors, looking to tap into your network? What then?

Recently, I had several people send me a LinkedIn invite after a webinar that I did. At first I was flattered, but then when I thought about it further, it didn’t really make any sense because I hardly knew these people except for knowing that they had attended  my webinar. Is it advisable to accept an invitation from someone that you hardly know and include them in your network? Or, should you wait to get to know them before you invite them into your network?

Let’s hear your thoughts.

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