How Networking Online Can Lead to Real Profits

You're at a cocktail party and there's someone you want to meet. So you set your sights on that person, work your way across the room--and finally meet face-to-face. You don't want to seem to anxious, so you play it cool.

Football? Sure! You saw that game. Weather? Yep. Rain makes your flowers grow, but it can be a bother when you're trying to get to work and your umbrella turns inside out. You look for your "in" -- and you go for it.

Sure enough, the next day, you get a note from that "bigwig." He liked what you had to say and tracked you down. Not only are you now on his radar, but he also wants to know more about your business or, even better, he wants to do business with you.

That's the ideal networking situation, right? What if I told you the cocktail party was a virtual room, and you never actually met? Is that crazy? Well, if I didn't have proof, I'd think it was crazy, too. But networking strategically through social media not only works--it can expand your potential past your town, your state and your comfort zone.

I can give you one example. I read on that was one of the No. 1 Web sites for women. So I marked that on my "I want to meet" list. Silly? You bet, but when I signed up for Twitter, I decided not to let it take over my time unless it was worth it. Time is money, and I didn't want to waste it.

So one night during the Golden Globes Awards show, I struck up a conversation with @StartupPrincess. She tweeted that she liked Sandra Bullock's dress. Well, I did, too. And so it began.

I was at my in-laws' house, and no one was interested in the Golden Globes but me and my Twitter friends. So @StartupPrincess and I became friends. We chatted off and on during the night. We talked about what we liked and what we didn't like. We never discussed what either of us did for a living.

But obviously something struck a chord with @StartupPrincess because she checked out my profile on Twitter (attached to my tweets), and on Monday an e-mail from the site asked whether I'd like to be one of their Fairy Godmothers (the site's term for a contributor). Would I? My gosh, I could barely answer the e-mail fast enough. Of course I would love to be a part of That was my first real "get" on Twitter.

If that was my first real "catch," the next one was a whale. I have long admired Tory Johnson from Good Morning America. Her no-nonsense approach to getting a job is second to none. Yes, I worked for ABC stations for 20 years, but Tory and I never met. However, she was on my "wish" list. She was someone I wanted to meet not just because of her contacts but because of the wealth of knowledge I felt she could pass along.

I have no idea which tweet got us communicating . . . but I'm sure it was something concerning women and business. That's what Tory concentrates on: getting women jobs. So much so that six years ago, she became a contributor to Good Morning America. Anyhow, I loved what Tory had to say, so I either retweeted what she said or answered something she'd posted. In any case, she responded.

I remember being so impressed. Yes, I'd spent 20 years in TV, but I was thrilled that a network gal noticed me. So we began to chat via Twitter. She'd post something I liked, so I'd retweet it. I'd post something she liked, so she'd share it with her followers. But it didn't stop there. Our tweets turned into real e-mails of communication.

That's what some folks don't get about social media. Does a tweet or a Facebook post make a relationship? I hope not. However, it's like a cocktail party; it takes away the anxiety of a "cold call." You get a chance to meet briefly and, if there's something there, you can take it to the next level. It could be as simple as looking at one another's Twitter profiles to figure out if there's some way to mutually benefit each other. But my connection with Tory turned out to be so much more.Tory is not only about helping women get jobs, but she's also now helping entrepreneurs and women business owners make sure theirpaychecks equal their potential.

Boy, did that resonate with me. I had a book out and was touring the country speaking, but my income didn't reflect the amount of work and energy I put into my business. That's what Tory and I began to talk about in e-mails, and it eventually led me to speak at her Spark and Hustle convention in Atlanta two months ago.

I met Tory for the first time on opening day of Spark and Hustle. She was reserved, kind and full of encouragement. The whole time, I tried to remember her slogan: how to make your paycheck (finally) equal your potential. I spoke to the convention attendees about rebounding with gusto, which I was familiar with. But during the rest of the conference, I sat there taking notes on having various revenue streams, collaborating with women to make money and how to look at the big picture. It was a game-changer for me.

I left that conference in July 2010 empowered and ready to change my financial bottom line. And I did. All the while, I began to wonder how I could get that information to so many of my fellow entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. That's why I was so excited when Tory announced a national tour of her Spark and Hustle conference. I began to "bug" her about bringing that incredible conference to my peeps at home. Tory never mocked me or told me my area was too small; she just listened, and I prayed.

A few weeks ago, Tory announced the eight cities where she's taking Spark and Hustle: Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas and--you guessed it--Tulsa, Okla.

I was as giddy as a schoolgirl when she let me know Tulsa was on the list. Not only that, but she was willing to work with me in a way that would benefit my financial bottom line. Wow. What started out as a simple tweet had turned into a business deal with someone I admired greatly. What more could you ask for? Tory has become a business partner, a mentor and, best of all, a Girlfriend.

So when you use social media to "waste time" (hello? Farm animals on Facebook) or feel you're constantly preaching your business, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Would you really walk up to someone powerful at a cocktail party and ask them to play games or yell your business at them? I don't think so. Instead you might think about making a meaningful connection. What do you have in common? What do you have that's of value? With some strategic networking, you might be surprised what avenues open up for you.