These days it isn’t always necessary to head along to the latest networking meeting. You may possibly gain a handful of good connections, maybe not. Why not network online first and build a relationship up and then meet face to face – if you really need to – to cement the connection. If, like me, you are quite shy in a crowd, then online networking is ideal.
I’m not saying don’t meet people in person but sometimes it can all be done online therefore saving time and money travelling. The internet has shrunk the world – you can do business with someone the other side of the world just as easily as in the same county. If you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to do this then why drive for miles either? Although it is good to put a face with an avatar sometimes.
LinkedIn is more professional than other Social Media sites. It is very good for professionals seeking work. People and businesses connect up on LinkedIn via recommendations and groups. Or maybe they link up because they see you would be good to connect to from your updates, blogs and connections. You can network with like-minded professionals in the groups and discussions.
Ensure that your Profile is completely updated so that it attracts people to link up with you. Don’t forget it is an advertisement of yourself and your business too. One bad habit that people do is sending an invite to link up without saying why. Explain why you want to connect and you’ll find it will work better for you.
Join in Groups and discussions that are relevant to your business or even create a Group yourself and invite people to join. You can upgrade your LinkedIn profile by paying a monthly subscription and have more features which are useful for networking and linking up with other professionals.
Remember that your business must have a page and not a personal profile – that is just to chat to your friends. I wrote a post recently about using Facebook and networking so you can read more – How To Get Reactions On Facebook.
For Twitter to work you have to chat. If you don’t tweet then it’s like going to a networking meeting and sitting in the corner not saying anything. It won’t get you very far. Search for people with similar interests using the search tabs. If you see something interesting then retweet it to your followers. It’s another good way to connect with the original tweeter too sometimes. And possibly they will reciprocate and retweet something of yours to their followers some time – thereby extending your network.
I use Tweetdeck but other platforms are similar – you can keep columns open searching for tweets with words in that you cover in your business. For example I’m an accountant as well as a writer and I have used searches for accountant or accountancy to see people tweeting those words. Not only can it connect you with people in a similar field to you but also to people searching for your services. I have also used this to help people who may have an accountancy question – if I can answer it simply in a tweet then why not? Sometimes it sparks off a conversation and maybe an open thank you which is similar to a recommendation.
Google+ has several great features for networking online. You can use it in a similar way to Facebook with status updates but you can also create “circles” to choose who you are sharing the information with. Google Hangouts are brilliant for networking face-to-face without leaving your house. It is a live video chat and can be used by up to 9 people in one go – from wherever you are.
Everyone uses Skype these days – it’s easy to connect and share using video calls, conference calls or just voice-talk. You can share files and screen shots too. It’s perfect for business use or just connecting across the miles as some people need to do when apart.
Disqus is an application which provides an online profile across several platforms. It is like an online business card showing your description, contact details, picture, website links and also your previous comments and likes when you have used Disqus. Every time you comment on a blog using Disqus it provides a link to your profile – everything all in one place. It is also a great application to add to your blog, making comments and discussion easy.
There are so many Social Media sites and useful applications for networking online these days it certainly does make it easier to “network from your sofa”. However a lot of people still prefer the face to face meetings and often to “seal a deal” this would be better. Each to their own.
I would love to hear of any sites that you use to network online or any suggestions you can give to help.
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