The days of swapping business cards at conferences and trade shows are dying out. In today’s business world nearly everybody has an online presence. As the saying goes: “If you are not online you don’t exist.”
Embracing the world of online networking may seem daunting and confusing. Our comprehensive guide will show you how to leverage traditional methods of networking to the online world and how to find people worthy connecting with.
Traditional networking takes the form of an introduction or meeting, followed by a conversation and the end goal is to swap business cards or contact details.
Online networking follows the same principal but it starts with a search for people / company, followed by an interest in what they have to say and ends with a connection.
Traditional networking is easier in the sense that you meet somebody, you hear what they have to say and decide within a short space of time if it is somebody you want to hear from again.
Networking online is more complicated. There is so much information online that at times it can difficult to distinguish the good from the bad and the useful from the useless. Our tips show you how to drown out the online noise and focus on finding valuable connections:
Unlike traditional networking where opportunities to meet like-minded individuals may be limited to seminars, conferences or chance meetings, the online world is full of possible networking opportunities. Smartphones enable us to connect with people anytime of the day and anywhere.
Networking isn’t restricted to Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. Even outside of work hours opportunities exist, pay attention to what is being discussed on social forums and community sites.
Getting yourself noticed online can be difficult but there are a number of tricks that you can use to stand out from the crowd. Blogging is hugely popular and also great at showing off your knowledge. You don’t have to set up your own blog, many forums and magazine sites allow you to contribute blog articles.
LinkedIn Publisher is a great platform for self-publishing content. Make it topical, interesting and engaging. The aim is to attract the attention of peers, get people talking about it and to share it. Read our guide on how to use LinkedIn Publisher to get noticed on LinkedIn.
The lines between a personal profile and professional profile are becoming increasingly blurred. However, it is important to keep your social and business social media profiles seperate. You wouldn’t hand out a business card with a picture of yourself in your PJ’s on the front. The same rule applies online.
When it comes to social media sites, look beyond the norm (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). Many companies and business professionals now have profiles on Pinterest, Myspace, Instagram…the list can go on and on.
You may not think of email as falling into the category of online, however it does. Email contact databases are a worth their weight in gold. They are a resource not be dismissed, however use it with caution as some people see it as being intrusive.
Be selective who you reach out to and be subtle in the way you do it. Write it as if it is a re-connecting email, asking how business is going and their plans for going forward.
Taking part in online courses and webinars is not only great for increasing your skill base but it is a great opportunity to connect with people who have a similar interest. Some courses or webinars make the list of participants available. If so, ask for a copy and look them up on LinkedIn. Use this as the reason to connect with them.
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