Networking is one of the most important ways to invest in the future of your career, but it can also be pretty difficult. Not only do you have to find the right opportunities to network, but you also need to find the courage to speak to the people you want to impress.
The good news for introverts and busy business leaders is that there are various ways you can start networking today without having to attend time-consuming and expensive events and dinners.
As a business owner, my business coach has been encouraging me to “find your satellites.” Basically, he wants me to work on finding five people to have in my circle that I take inspiration and learn from and whose achievements and goals are similar to my own or better. So, my first step is to start a women in business support group. Long story short, I have been learning how to successfully network online to build my group. Here are some tips I’ve picked up on my quest…
Online networking can be an excellent way to build a valuable community
Of course, just like all forms of networking, you’re still going to need an effective strategy. Keep these tips in mind for effective online networking, and if you want to promote your own business the use of online marketing can be great for this.
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1. Carefully consider where to network online
Probably the most important part of building a successful online networking strategy is deciding where you’re going to connect with potential peers.
Social media channels like LinkedIn are generally a good place to start, but you can also go further and check out places like Slack groups and forums specifically for your chosen industry. You can also find a lot of great people to connect with on places like Twitter.
Keep your eyes open for digital and virtual events too. These are becoming increasingly popular, and they often come with chat rooms and networking spaces where you can reach out to others with shared interests.
2. Connect with the right people – look for industry peers and people who can teach you something
As tempting as it might be to build a relationship with influencers or thought leaders, the reality is that it’s important to think carefully about who you reach out to.
Connecting with people who already have a strong presence in your industry or a link to the businesses you want to work with can be a good idea too.
Keep an open mind when establishing your relationships online. You might be surprised to discover who can make a difference in your future career. If someone offers to introduce you to someone they think could help you, take advantage.
3. Network regularly
When you’re starting out in networking, schedule a few hours every week where you can check out what’s happening on social media, read up on the content shared on your favourite forums, and participate in conversations.
4. You’ll want to have an active online presence if you want to make those connections count.
Remember to check your news feed on a daily basis when you can, and at the very least try to update your LinkedIn status with a few relevant factoids or links to relevant news stories from your industry.
The more people see you online, the more likely it is they’ll feel connected to you and want to strike up a conversation.
5. Check in and follow up regularly
If you’re going to really grow a successful network online, you need to work harder at making connections than offline. You can’t expect to have the same emotional link to someone online as you do in person, so you’re going to need to speak to the people you meet more often.
6. Make a habit of regularly getting online and devoting time to following up with the people you’ve already met
AKA relationship building!
If you’ve already spoken to someone on social media quite a few times and you want to strengthen the relationship, ask them to connect over the phone or meet with you on a video conference.
The more meaningful connections with people that you can make, the better.
7. Be helpful and informative
The more you invest in networking, the more you’ll learn that people want to connect with others whom they believe can help them out. The more informative, helpful, and knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you become.
This doesn’t mean you should be constantly asking your contacts if you can do anything for them but make a concentrated effort to share useful information whenever you can.
On LinkedIn, you can write posts where you talk about your experiences in the industry. On forums, you can respond to questions being asked by other people in your space.
It’s also worth looking for ways to be helpful in other ways too, like responding to emails where people ask for your input or getting involved with podcasts and interviews.
One day you might want to create your own webinars and online events to help build your network further. If you’re not ready to talk the plunge and host it yourself, look into booking a diversity speaker for your event or a vocal coach to help get you ready.
8. Keep working on it
You won’t always be an instant success when you start networking with your peers. It might take a while for people to respond to you, and some might ignore you completely.
9. The key to success, as with most things, is to keep working
Don’t let it get you down if you struggle with building your network initially. Keep focusing on your goals and practising.
Over time, you’ll learn how to become more effective at building relationships. What’s more, those relationships will help you to achieve your goals in your career.
Last Updated on June 30, 2023 by Lucy Clarke