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Am I building networks or visibility?

Am I building networks or visibility?

Am I building a brand or am I looking for visibility? This is what my mentor asked me at our first meeting. The same question could be posed by active networkers- am I building trust networks or visibility? I will share three learnings from my past.

What’s the difference?

It is common in social networks to think that the more contacts, the better. While it is very important for a content producer to have a large audience, even more important is how active this audience is.

If you’re not an active content producer (there are less than 20% of them on social media networks), then I can pretty much say that a large number of contacts won’t produce the expected results for you. Why?

We tend not to buy just because we like someone, at least we don’t do bigger purchases or business deals based on liking. We need something more.

A large number of social contacts does not automatically mean

that you can be trusted.

Quantity and quality do not grow at the same rate. The quality of networks has been studied to be more important in terms of its usefulness than quantity. One of the most important factors in quality is trust. A large number of social contacts does not automatically mean that you can be trusted.

Trust. At this point, it is good to remember that trust is never absolute. For some, they’re ready to open up about personal heartache and secrets, but certainly not ready to take on business advice.

If you do not have instrumental ties (instrumental ties are formed when we work with other people to achieve a goal) with people in your network of contacts, then it is very rare for them to come through work or business proposals.

Another question that my mentor has asked me is “Aide, do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?”. If I wanted to be the country manager in a small market or middle management in a big market. From this, too, I learned that what I aim for in networks is important to formulate.

I myself have over two thousand contacts and by no means can I remember who everyone is. Except, those who stand out from the crowd. In the middle of a large number, an “own tribe” has formed. In addition to instrumental ties, my own tribe includes those who regularly respond and interact with my posts. Best way to belong to the “tribe” of someone who has important digital contact is to be active.

Define what your “pond” is, who is with you in that “pond” and be active. Even if you have not cooperated offline, you can always stand out positively and confirm that the person important to you will notice and remember you.

If you want to be remembered as lazy, then press the “Like” button for posts. C’mon! Anyone who has spent time in social media long enough knows that people tend to think that you put your thumb up even if you don’t read the post. We do so when we are not ready to concentrate on others thoughts but want to show they are ok. We press “Like” because he’s a ok person and who knows, maybe you will need him in future. Just in case. Am I wrong?

Likes in today’s online environment have suffered a huge devaluation.

Likes in today’s online environment have suffered a huge devaluation. When you hope to be noticed, write a positive comment with more than two words!

The third lesson is from my young adulthood. As a lively, curious young woman, there were various friends around me. At times, my parents were perhaps rightly concerned. “Hanging out with those people will lead you to trouble!” The idea behind this was, that connections lead you to certain actions and will allow you to use opportunities. Both, good and bad ones.

More important than the number of contacts is where these connections lead and how they connect the otherwise unconnected

More important than the number of contacts is where these connections lead and how they connect the otherwise unconnected, that is, how many SuperConnectors are in your network. Why are they important?

Although, we have a theory that only six contacts separate us from any person in the world (Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other). More and more studies show that only the contacts less than 3 steps away are important. Crucial “key pathways” are step 1 and step 2 contacts, only in rare cases step 3 contacts.

Ask yourself, who is the person in my network who can reach everyone else in two steps or less? Such people in your network are worth their weight in gold, they have access to ideas and information. They are probably the best innovators because they are able to combine ideas and information found in different places into new products and services.

So in order to be effective, start by:

  • looking for Super Connectors through digital platforms,
  • contact them
  • confirm that you belong to their “digital tribe”
  • build trust by producing useful content, positive comments, current information, or innovative ideas

Good luck and hope we will meet face to face some day soon!

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Five tips on how to network during social distance times

Five tips on how to network during these #coronavirus times

#networking is especially crucial now, amid worldwide lockdowns and quarantines. Don’t stop networking for #coronavirus. Simply switch channels, use all the digital capabilities that are relevant to your business. Don’t forget about the phone. If you used to make a couple of calls a day, now would be a good time to at least triple the number. Make a list of different stakeholders and people who are:

1. Important and interested in you and your business.

You must fully commit to this group especially now during such a special situation. Make sure they get enough frequent and relevant information about what you are doing right now.

2. Important to you, but less interested in the opportunities you offer. Get in touch with them often and make sure you don’t spam them too much.

You don’t want them to get bored with you. You will still need them after the pandemic is over and business continues.

3. Very interested in what you do, but not important to your business. It’s good to keep those enthusiastic people up to date.

Through them, you are sure to get more exposure on social media. They will help you build your personal and company brand. Be kind to them and take note of them. Make sure they have everything ok.

4. Neither interested nor important to you. Keep track of what their people and stakeholders are doing, you might get some good ideas through them.

However, you should not focus too much on them and overburden them with communication.

5. Support the author of this article by purchasing her book or webinar.

In the book “NETWORK, IMPACT, SUCCESS — How to Grow Social Capital and Turn it into Economic Benefit” Aide reveals the secrets of networking, sharing memorable moments and experiences of networking. The book is in Finnish, webinars also available in English.

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Nobody believes in a leader with no networks and zero networking skills


The role of interaction and networks has become more prominent and more important than ever before. It’s well known, that the biggest deals are made through networks, also most jobs and boards are filled in the same way.

“In the future, networks and social interaction will play an increasingly important role. Network power is growing. ”This is stated in The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra’s Megatrends2020 report. Blah blah blah … many of us are thinking now. Yes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will search for the best leads, better bids, will prepare the contracts and make the best deals.

This may be true in the future. The “bad” news, however, is that AI has been in development for over fifty years, but has so far been unable to replace human networks and it’s power. On the contrary, the role of social capital and networks has become even more prominent.

According to research by Gartner, a multinational information technology research and consulting firm, 74% of today’s executives feel they are dealing with a variety of stakeholders (including networks) more than ever.

This means that they are expected to have the skills to create and influence networks. The manager is responsible for the effective utilisation of the social capital within and between the organisations. If today’s leader is unable to harness the skills, ideas, and relationships of people and their networks, the development of the entire organisation is at risk. Leaders from around the world participated in Gartner’s research. However, a minority of them found that they were good at networking.


Are things better here in Finland? 

5,000 Finns took part in the Sitra’s New Skills and Routes for Work survey.Creativity, interaction and networking are predicted to be emphasised in the future labor market. However, in Sitra’s research, their expertise was found at the bottom of the list.


During last couple of years, I have interviewed many of the business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, education and training professionals. There is great interest in developing networking skills and the need to increase social capital. At the same time, the interviewees admit that they have not received help or instruction on the subject during their education and career. Thus, networking skills have certainly not been sufficiently utilised and used in Finland to gain a competitive advantage.

Here are my five tips to keep in mind on the path to networking and increasing social capital:

1) Nobody trusts an expert or a leader who has no networks and no networking skills. 

It’s a harsh truth. Start building your organisation’s and personal credibility by developing advanced networking skills. Social capital is the real and measurable currency of today and the future.

2) The manager has at least one non-delegated function. It’s about networking and maintaining relationships.

You do not need separate networking events or organised breaks for networking. Find the right forms of networking for you, repetition is the key. Keep up the good “networking hygiene” daily.

3) The amount and quality of new contacts are not enemies. Increase the volume and improve the quality of the relationship. 

However, always remember to make sure your network is aware of your expertise and how you can benefit others.

4) Build real networks around you instead of bubbles.

Get information and contacts across disciplines, genders and age groups. Make sure your networks stay diverse. Your future employer may be 18 years old today 🙂

5) You cannot control networks, if you think you can, you are delusional. 

Instead, you can control your attitudes towards people you meet and events you plan to participate. Staying curious and active will ensure that you do not miss opportunities to meet people who can open new doors in your future life. 

In a world where more than half of economic activity is international,there is indeed a need to develop networking skills and thereby increase one’s social capital.

Aide Tonts is a networking expert and “well marinated” senior executive in the international business world. She works as a management consultant, trainer and key note speaker. Aide has published a book, “NETWORKING TO IMPROVE SUCCESS – How to Grow Social Capital and Turn it into Economic Benefit.”

Article was originally published in Presser OY

PHOTO: Ain Tõnts