The Networking is an essential activity to be sucessfull your professional career. For entrepreneurs and business owners it takes an even more important role as it can condition the success of the business.
The recent pandemic has accelerated even more the move to the digital world and, people who where most digitally prepared have taken advantage of this turning point.
Of course online networking cannot substitute physical networking activity, but in a world where digital is gaining more prominence and time is of the essence, we should use it at the maximum. Online networking enables us to be more in control of our time and have a broader audience to work with.
Why you should network online
The goals of networking, whether online or offline, are many: you get to share your knowledge, raise your profile, make valuable connections and discover new opportunities.
Online networking offers a competitive advantage agains physical networking. By not being limited to meeting people at networking events in your area, you get to expand the reach of your activities, giving you access to much more people and opportunities on a global scale.
While networking online has its advantages, don't forget that the goal fo networking is for people to meet, build a 'real world' relationship that could lead up to closing a deal or forging a new partnership. So please use online networking as the right step for "the real" networking activity.
So, after clearing this up let's checkout some important tips for doing successful networking online:
Use Online Networks to Make Connections
The best way to search and find people that can match what you're looking for is to search some of the mosr used networks sucha as LinkedIn, Facebook or MeetUp.
All these platforms have all the people segmented by area and location so it will be very easy to make the serach.
LinkedIn is the largest Network, with more than 700.000 contacts. Depending on the type of business and the country you're looking for contacts, you should be able to find the people you're looking. But make mno mistake, you will have to build your presence on the network first and work to establish your brand.
LinkedIn is definitely the first place to have the professional description of yourself (there can be others, but this is mandatory).
After meeting you in a professional way, most people will look for you on social networks such as LinkedIn and maybe others too. LinkedIn is used to connect but also to keep track of what you do. It is also a place where people confirm that you are what you say and what are your professional achievements.
Here are some tips you should look to make you linkedin page appealing and trustworthy:
Choose the right picture for your profile
Visuals sell. Upload a professional looking picture, make sure it is recent and look smiley.
Choose an inspiring background photo
Make it your own like a photo of you talking in a conference or reference something that you believe in.
Make the headline more than just a job title
Use the headline field to say a bit more about your role, like why you do what you do. Alternatively use it to append several roles on several companies or projects.
Tell your story in the summary
The summary is your chance to tell your own story. Don’t use it just to list your skills, job titles or describe a role. Mention what you’re passionate about and how you’re making it a reality. Invest some time on it because this is the most important piece of content marketing you will write about.
Things to avoid
Don’t describe yourself as ‘experienced’, ‘expert’, ‘innovative’, ‘leader’, ‘experienced’ or other self-aggrandizing or arrogant terms, instead be humble and be subtle. Don’t exaggerate in the use of buzzwords, especially don’t use terms like ‘Industry 4.0’ or other senseless terms.
Grow your network, organically
Most articles will tell you to connect with your gmail/facebook contacts. My advice is DON’T DO IT! Be selective, be focused, don’t trust an “export feature” to build your network. Your network deserves to be clean and focused, not a mere friend list (for that you have facebook)
Fill your relevant skills
This one of the quickest wins on LinkedIn, just scroll through the list of skills and identify those that are relevant to you. Just concentrate on a few ones, so that the platform and your contacts can endorse the ones you’re most experienced.
After building the profile you are ready.
Find and engage peoplejoining LinkedIn groups
One good way to find people to connect with by joining LinkedIn groups. You shoud join and browse frequently groups from the sectors you're looking for. Groups normally have both the buyers and the sellers of a certain produvt/service.
Post Content or leave comments
Engage by posting content and talking to industry influencers. Out of the 500 million LinkedIn users, only 3 million share content, according to Foundation Inc. Forming opinions and discussing relevant topics will position you as a voice in your industry. You also want to engage with the top figures in your industry by leaving insightful comments on their posts.
Repeat until you amass a strong following. Keep optimizing your profile, connecting with different people and continuing to produce relevant content — you’ll find that people take interest in who you are and what you have to offer.
Meetup is very diffrenet from LinkedIn. Meetup is a networking platform centered around events, which is perfect for connecting with local communities that represent your interests.
The unique value of Meetup is that involves both online interaction and offline participation. You can seravh through groups and pick and choose which might fit your interests. Once you elect to join a group, you can start attending their events.
Meetup is also ideal for skill-based professional networking. For example, if you’re learning to code and want to score your first job in the field, try connecting with people in the industry by attending a coding Meetup.
Take advantage of social media networking
Social media is not only fun way to share experiences with friends. It is also an opportunity to craft a personal brand. It has an incredible reach, sometimes higher than professional networks, making it essential for mass online networking.
Social media allows you to keep on top of trends, connect with audiences in creative ways, and drive attention to your work and enhance your personal brand.
You need to choose very well which platforms will be ideals for your goals. Here's a break down fo the four main social media networks:
Much more than a photo-sharing app, Instagram has become an excellant medium to connect with B2C companies and brands.
You can also choose to build your (professional or business) brand in Instagram, but be prepared to spend long months gathering followers for your channel. You will need to be creative, engaging to get them. Ad evertything, it is an investmenet that can lead you to larger gains in the future.
With more than 2.5 billion monthly active users on Facebook, the platform is the is a perfect stage for online networking. Facebook also has a very good advertising model, which enables you to reach lots of people without having a large number of followers.
A unique aspect of Facebook is its live feature. You have the ability to shoot video live, cast it out to your audience and get comments in real-time. This is great for journalists, politicians, business leaders and entrepreneurs to share their thoughts on a hot-button topic.
Twitter gives you the chance to send out tweets and get immediate engagement. One of the best advantages from twitwer is the ability to stay connected with influencers and people with authority in certain fields. By commenting on their threads you will end up being seen by their vast audience. Just be constructive and creative.
Attend virtual networking events
Virtual events are here to stay, and they have become a fabulous ways to meet people online.
By browsing social networks you can find lots of online events and its up to you to choose the best ones.
When attending and online event be prepared to be noticed, so here are a few tips:
- Choose a professiponal picture for your profile
- Write your name followed by your brand name or your activity. This is what people will be seeing from you during the full event
- Use the chat feature to present yourself at teh begining of the event. Always leave your email, or event phone if you think it is important
- Switch off your audio when you're not talking
- Wear professional attire
- Position your computer near natural lighting
- Fix you camera on eye-level
- Make sure your background is clean and not distracting
- Try to make an intervention during the event and be helpful, don't try to sell nothing
If you're allowed to talk during the event that will be the decisive factor where you can reaise awareness to you, your brand or your activities. Here are a few tips:
- Try to make at least one intervention during the event. Be helpful and don't try to sell nothing
- Try to introduce yourself early. Always introduce yourself formally on your first face-to-face call.
- Don’t hide when in a large group. If the meeting has many attendees, try to get involved by asking questions and making relevant comments.
- Keep the conversation high-level unless you are asked to dive deeper into a subject. Avoid long monologues by summarizing your experiences instead of deeply describing them.
Online meeting are the wonderfull opportunities to be noticed and to meet interesting people. So start filling up your calendar with virtual networking events!