While it is still imperative to actively network with people in person, modern technology has made online networking simpler and more effective than ever. There are countless tools and online communities, such as the National Association of Distinguished Professionals, and it is extremely easy to reach out to people anywhere in the world with whom you may never have connected otherwise. The following eight tips will help you to achieve increased success through networking online.
1.Prepare for networking conversations by being aware of what you need and what you have to offer. What specifically are you looking to get out of networking in the short and long run? Determining your goals in advance, whether they are landing a new career or finding sales leads, will prove crucial during networking conversations. Also, understanding your strengths, resources, and anything you can offer to others to help them will prepare you so that you are ready to add value. Research contacts so that you can get more specific insight on how you can assist.
2.Establish an online presence. Zero in on your personal brand and consistently apply, develop, and promote it online through the way you describe yourself and interact. This does not mean you need to be on every site that remotely entails networking. This would be excessive, overly time-consuming, and unnecessary. Seek appropriate settings and work towards building your personal brand there.
3.Branch out. The beauty of online networking is that it provides an avenue to connect with people with whom you never would have otherwise even come in contact. Start with people you know, including friends, family, classmates, professional colleagues, and past acquaintances. They may be able to introduce you to others, so build off of that. Utilize search tools and social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to find influencers and peers who would be valuable additions to your network, and then reach out.
4.Engage and interact. Post in forums and reply to others. Comment on posts and rebroadcast activity. Share ideas and information and offer expertise. Introduce people who you think should connect with one another. In general, have conversations. By asking and answering questions and sharing your knowledge, you will find relevant people with whom a connection can subsequently develop. If you are not active, you won’t reap the benefits that networking can have.
5.Target your networking. Yes, networking on sites like LinkedIn is vital; however, it is also extremely beneficial to find niche networks that are more specific. Active networking groups such as NADP have chats, forums, and other venues for interacting online that you can harness in order to optimize your networking efforts.
6.Stay organized. With all of the venues out there through which you can network and connect with people, including social media and email, among many others, the amount of contacts you build can become overwhelming. Don’t let this deter you from moving forward; rather, take the time to organize your networking arsenal. Make a schedule for when you will network and when you have specific networking tasks to complete or people to contact. Create lists for different groups of people complete with all of their contact information and important details to remember. Essentially, create a system that works for you so that you can network efficiently.
7.Be consistent and regularly communicate. Do not solely engage with people and network when you need something. If you conscientiously maintain connections and interact, you will be more likely to find people who are willing and able to help you. Another aspect of consistency is your online presence. Keep your brand, image, and message consistent across various profiles.
8.Don’t forget to be human. It is important to break away from the inherently impersonal nature of the online world. Be friendly, approachable, warm, positive, respectful, and generous. Your network contacts are real people, so tend to these relationships. Ask questions, touch base, and follow up diligently. Be creative and unique and, most importantly, let your personality show.
Online networking is important and beneficial to your professional and personal growth. Especially with modern technology, it has become easier to do this and there are an increasing amount of tools available to help. Follow these tips so that you do not miss out on valuable connections.