When a master learns a new skill

Billy McDermott is a master networker in person — probably the most connected guy in Queens, New York, co-chairing the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Communications and Public Affairs Committee and being honored as the 2002 Queens Businessperson of the Year. If anyone knows the value of face-to-face networking, Billy does.

A few months ago, he read about online social networking in his friend Victor Urbach’s newsletter, and decided to start exploring — not proactively at first, just out of curiosity. But he very quickly realized the enormous potential this represented, even for someone as connected as he already was.

Then Billy did something really smart — instead of coming in and just trying to apply everything he knew from his face-to-face experiences, he recognized it is a new area of mastery and looked around to find the people with wisdom to share with him. Everybody loves an eager student, and he very quickly connected with Thomas Power, Andrew Kraft, and yours truly. He picked up our book and Thomas Power’s book, and devoured them. In next to no time, he was “in” with the best-connected people online.

He’s written up his experiences so far on Ecademy, LinkedIn, and Ryze. A great read if you’re new to this topic, or just unconvinced about the whole practice or any of these sites in particular.

On Ecademy:

Why Ecademy? Several of my friends have asked me that question. It seems too British, too U.K., they say. Precisely is my answer. One word – Global!

For the last three mornings I have awakened to many posts from my new friends at Ecademy, including Thomas Power. Because of the time difference and so few U.S members, the site goes silent during my evening and awakens while I am fast asleep. It was always a goal to wake up with orders. Already, I am working a woman who wants me to help her market product.

On LinkedIn:

I have spent over six years in the Internet industry as a Senior Management Executive and LinkedIn is one of the very few sites I have found with the robust technology to fulfill their business plan. It is quite impressive even though it is still in late beta stage.

Every time someone becomes connected to you, your sphere of influence grows larger. I am convinced I shall meet more influential people in a shorter time using Social Networks such as LinkedIn on the Internet.

On Ryze:

Up until a week ago, calling Ryze “junior league at best” was being kind, or so I thought. I had met so few who had impressed me. I have only a certain amount of time in my day and I like to hang out with senior level executive types. I am not interested in the social aspect, just the Business aspect. A friend of mine, Joe Rosenberg, asked me to take another look.

Like anything, you must work it. When you show up in real life, opportunities present themselves. You start putting yourself out in the online community and the best find you.

My opinion of Ryze has changed. I probably have book marked over 500 people I wish to visit again. Yes, I visited 500 people.

Here’s some of Billy’s best advice on how (and why) to get started with online social networking:

Here is what I found. I learned that if you joined and did nothing, nothing would occur. If you did not wish to fill out your profile, why were you bothering? It was extremely difficult for me to this. I had to learn it; master it. I know what I am about, so everyone else should know it, or so I thought. But people cannot read minds. You need to fill in keywords, not phrases, as most do. Phrases are not searchable. As smart as computers are, they have no common sense and are not human. I learned a long time ago, the world is quite concrete. The more exact and specific you are, the more business will come your way. Some are vague and some tell too much. You need a healthy balance. I spent time refining and refining. If you visit my pages, it changes often. It is a work in progress.

Here is the beauty of social networks. You are on stage 24/7. You have the world at your fingertips. You do not need to show up. All people have to do is search for you. Make it easy for everyone. Put your picture up. Give them information. Tell them everything, because they really do not know. Stand out as you have competition. Visit others in your field and see what they have. Copy from the best! It took mankind more than eight years to build the Alaska pipeline and it has been spitting out oil ever since. Feed your pipeline. Do it everyday. Because it so new, you are ahead of most of the universe. You will be established when others catch on. One of the arguments about in-person business networking was you always had to be on a persons mind to be of help. If someone asked me if I knew anyone and my mind was filled with the clutter of everyday life, they lost. Really good people never got to first base. You were not on my mind. Social Networks have profiles and I can type a few keywords and there you come up. I would be honored to endorse or connect you. It jogged my memory. Every morning I wake up with more requests than I can manage. It is funny how you do manage to find the time. Now, I can sit in my home office and connect with far more people than I could ever meet face to face on a daily basis.

I strongly encourage you to read all three of Billy’s write-ups, even if you’ve already dismissed the network in question. In particular, pay attention to Billy’s technique for identifying and connecting with quality contacts on Ryze — it speaks to the value of being selective about who your virtual friends are. Billy’s now one of mine.

(And yes, we’re going to get him blogging soon…)