I have a confession: I play, and enjoy playing, Zynga games. That’s right. Vampire Wars? Played it for two years. Then Farmville, and now Frontierville.
I’ll wait for you to stop cringing now. Because this is a business-related post.
Ready? Okay, here’s the thing. Because of these games, I’ve not only gotten closer to several of my business contacts on Facebook, who are also my “neighbors” in the games, but I actually spend more time on Facebook in general – which has led, oddly enough, to at least one of my business contacts pinging me on Facebook to chat about business or new work. Every week. In the last month, I’ve gotten feedback on my resumé, intel on two different agencies I’ve been looking at working with, and two new business inquiries. I’ve also built a Chicken Coop, an Inn, and a Schoolhouse.
There is, of course, a secret to this. I don’t allow the games to post to my Wall without permission, and I limit the visibility of the things I do publish to the folks I’m actually playing the games with, to avoid the inevitable “I hate you” from the various folks that hate the games. But aside from that, it’s really just about being available for a quick chat, and showing that you’re open to taking a casual approach.
I’m starting to think that this is one of the key reasons that more professionals are starting to turn to Facebook for networking. While LinkedIn is wonderful, and still highly useful for researching contacts, and finding leads from specific companies, Facebook has a much more human feel to it. If I find something amusing, I post it to my Wall, and a bunch of my friends comment on it. If I notice that one of my friends is having a birthday, I wish them a happy birthday, and they thank me.
It’s like the difference between the office happy hour and a Chamber networking breakfast. There’s a relaxed undertone to it that makes it easier to make genuine connections, which in turn makes it easier to actually do business together.
Is there a recommendation here? No. I’m not suggesting that playing Farmville will make you a better business person. But I am saying that, if you’re one of those who thinks that networking has to be all business, all the time, you might want to rethink your approach a bit.