This guest post is by Stanley Lee.
We all know the benefits of networking are obvious, so why are we neglecting it?
Are you scared about meeting new people in your industry? Do you spend a fortune to attend conferences and trade shows? Or do you waste a lot of time with travel and setting up your computer to work properly?
If you’re sick of making compromises, read on.
Get in touch using Airtime
Airtime allows you to talk to strangers and friends on Facebook via video chat without leaving your home office.
You can meet new people on the platform based on:
- where you live
- your interests
- their relationships with your friends.
The information is extracted from your Facebook profile.
The best part of all this is you don’t have to acquire strangers’ permission in advance to talk to them, which is typically common when you try accomplishing this feat with Skype or even on Google+ Hangouts. Also, you won’t find any random dudes doing weird stuff (remember Chatroulette?). I mean, who really wants to expose their Facebook identities while doing that?
If you’re concerned about Airtime’s credibility, let’s start with its leaders. Sean Parker was founding president of Facebook and co-founder of Napster, and Shawn Fanning, was co-founder of Napster. Celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Jim Carey, and Martha Stewart checked Airtime out on its launch day.
Now that you’re excited, let’s learn how you can use Airtime to connect with readers and others in your blog’s niche.
Before logging onto Airtime.com, you will need the following:
- A compatible web browser: For simplicity, I suggest using Google Chrome.
- A Facebook account: For obvious reasons.
- A webcam that works with Airtime: Most laptop cameras should work without problems. Plug-in webcams may have problems. See the steps below to find out if yours does.
Step 1: Log into Airtime.com
A simple process—just visit Airtime.com and follow the launch process. You will need to press some buttons to authorize certain permission settings in Airtime’s login process. These are required in order for your camera to work properly.
Step 2: Choose your target
You will see this splash screen after successfully configuring your webcam.
I blacked out my Facebook contacts to protect their privacy here. If you want to talk to your existing Facebook or Airtime contacts, you can click on a name on the right-hand panel and explore for yourself.
But since you’re most likely interested in discovering industry colleagues, let’s look at that. You have two ways to accomplish this goal.
The first way involves finding users with a common interest to talk to (as indicated by the blue rectangle). Then, click the Talk to Someone button.
This is the easiest way because:
- By checking the Near option, you can find people located close to you. If I live in Vancouver, Canada, I’m more likely to be connected to someone in, let’s say, New York City than New Delhi, India.
- By checking the Common Interests option, you can specify multiple interests to find like-minded people. For example, if you read ProBlogger, your search won’t just be limited to this publication. You likely read Copyblogger, Think Traffic, Social Triggers, SEOmoz, and Blog Tyrant regularly. You may have even liked them on Facebook.
- By checking the Friends of Friends option, you increase your chances of talking to a second-degree connection rather than the third, fourth, fifth, etc.
Let’s face it, life is already complex enough as it is. Enabling these options simplifies your Airtime experience and helps you home in on the right readers and industry contacts.
The second option involves finding users with a specific common interest. This is a great feature, but I do not recommend this method at the moment. Airtime does not have enough simultaneous users for you to find strangers with a specific common interest in a reasonable timeframe. Still, let’s take a look at how to do this just in case you want to play around.
Click on your profile, indicated here by the red box.
Move your cursor down to the Interests section, indicated by the blue box. You can click the More button at the bottom-right corner of the section to expand it.
Click on an interest, then click the Find people who like this hyperlink, indicated by the blue box.
Step 3: Start talking
In case if you’re a networking novice, here are some quick conversational basics before you begin talking.
Your goal should be to make new friends and make a great impression. How? By asking these simple questions in the following order, you will be able to spark deep conversations with your contacts:
- How did you find yourself trying out Airtime?
- What are you interested in these days?
- What challenges are you facing when you’re doing that?
Feel free to add one or two more questions specific to your industry or niche. The point is to break the ice, inquire about their hopes and challenges, and steer the conversation into the direction where you can provide—rather than extract—value. This is the key to keep the conversation going beyond this meeting.
After asking each of these questions, stop talking, and listen actively. After all, mutual exchange is a key ingredient to the art of networking.
If you really like talking to the person, you can add the contact into your Airtime list by pressing the blue button. You can also find other interests you may want to check off in your contact’s Interests panel on the right.
Step 4: Closing the loop
So you’ve met some new people and added the contacts you’ve bonded with particularly well. However, you’re just beginning the relationship. You’ll need to stay updated with what they’re up to, and close the loop by learning what you can help them with.
Here are some suggestions of what you can offer them:
- Advice from your expertise: Act like a consultant giving them free advice on their problems related to your blog’s niche. Leave money off the table, as you want to keep the relationship social rather than transactional.
- Be a connector: Doing so would not only help out your connections, but also build your reputation as a connector. Read this guide to get started if you don’t know how to be a connector.
- Share relevant resources: This could be as simple as sending a quick email with actionable information you come across that’s helpful for them.
It takes several iterations of loop closing in order to build trust in those new relationships. If the first tries seem daunting, don’t worry. Networking is a learned skill, and you’ll improve with more practice. And Airtime is a great environment for you to practice quickly.
Let me know about your experience!
I hope you have enjoyed learning how Airtime can improve your life. Both in business and personal contexts, but particularly in terms of your blog.
Now you know how to use Airtime to build new relationships with other similar-minded people in a fail-safe manner. Or improve the quality of your relationships. Or even just conduct research for your blog that would otherwise be time-consuming and difficult to get without a large existing readership.
All within the comfort of your workspace, without the headaches of messing around with software packages.
Don’t you want to focus on big wins rather than being buried in the endless list of trivial tactics (e.g. spending all your resources tweaking SEO or honing a sales page when you don’t even know if it has its place in the marketplace)?
Have you used Airtime? How did it help you? What were the good points and bad points? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Stanley Lee blogs about systems building, marketing, and societal topics, providing in-depth commentary for the benefit of his readers.