Networking online is important for your business to develop both social and professional relationships. Although you can reap many of the same benefits as networking in person, online networking requires business owners to utilize a variety of digital tools. Here are five ways you can maximize the results of your networking.
Decide On Your Goal
Before you even begin talking to other professionals, you need to decide what your goal is for networking. Are you looking for a new job? Are you looking for referrals or partnerships? Are you just looking to expand your industry knowledge? Which tools you use depend on your network. From online forums and groups like LinkedIn and Facebook to digital meetups, there are endless possibilities to expand your network. Make the most of your time by networking online in the places that align with your overall goal.
Start with Your Current Connections
Make the most of your networking efforts by starting with the people in your current groups. These “warm” connections will be much easier to interact with and your conversations won’t feel like they are coming out of the blue. Start by reaching out to these folks and doing a check-in or asking for advice on something happening in their industry. Then, take a look at the content they’re putting out and begin to engage with their blogs and posts. This shows them you are interested in what they do. It also encourages them to take a look at your content and engage on your channels.
Create a Group
The easiest way to create a central location for your current and new connections to engage is through a group. LinkedIn groups are a great place to start. Many professionals use LinkedIn already on a daily basis. Creating a group to bring all these like-minded people together is a simple way to break the ice and start the conversation. Think about which industries have the people you’re most interested in networking with. Based on this, create a group for those specific folks and invite them to join. Here, your group can discuss a variety of topics that apply to their industry and companies. As a result, you can build up your rapport with these connections and eventually develop referral partnerships.
Like any relationship, networking online successfully takes time. As you build your network, think about how you can offer value to others and build a trusting relationship. Avoid doing the hard sell and expecting a stranger to immediately take up your offer. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.
38% of professionals find it difficult to maintain their business relationships.
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