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Networking has turned into a bit of a buzz word. You’ll often hear people say how important it is to network and they’ll spout the phrase, “It’s all about who you know.” While it may sound like a cliché, the importance of networking is real.
Successfully connecting with people online will help you find more opportunities, gain important contacts, and bond with like-minded individuals.
There are several different reasons why you may want to improve your networking skills. It can help you find a new career, boost your business, improve your personal or brand image, create professional and personal friendships, and more.
Human relationships do not come with an instruction manual. However, there are some key factors that will help you successfully network online.
Fine Tune Your Online Profiles
Your social media profile, whether it be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, is the first impression people will get of you online. Now a virtual first impression may not hold as much weight as meeting someone in person–it’s still significant.
Out of all the social media networks, your LinkedIn profile will likely be the most professional. You can think of LinkedIn as an online resume. Business profiles should be kept professional depending on the type of business and target audience.
Carefully think of how each one of your profiles represents you or your business.
Once you message or engage with someone, they will go right to your profile to get an idea of who you are and what you’re about. Make it clear what your business or personal image is and be contentious on your profile appearance.
There is no one size fits all for how you should construct your online profiles, but you should always be as genuine as possible. There is an overabundance of fakeness online, so be true to yourself or business.
Overall, your profile should be friendly, polished, unique, and fitting to your personality.
Evaluate Your Social Media Content
Another early online impression that others will get from you is the content you are putting out. Social media is a platform allowing anyone to speak their mind, and freedom of speech is a constitutional right that’s held very dearly by the American people.
As you’re trying to network, think about what is appropriate and what isn’t. If you are looking to engage with successful professionals on a particular platform, do not use it to air dirty laundry.
Keep your personal frustrations and controversial outbursts separate from your profiles used to network. Or simply don’t use social media as a complaint box.
You have to think about the message your content is giving and if it really needs to be online for everyone to see.
What you post ultimately attracts like-minded people online. Think about who you are trying to network with and why. Create content that fits in that circle and still illustrates your personality.
By separating platforms and filtering content on those you plan to network with, you’ll prevent people from getting the wrong impression.
Don’t Be Shy and Don’t Be Annoying
You’ll need to break free of your introvertive shell and speak up. Contacting people is the fastest way to network and build connections. This means you will need to occasionally message people. Be friendly and specific as to why you are reaching out.
Due to the number of spam and fake accounts online, be as human and direct as possible when sending a personal message. Don’t just ask for favors either–find a way to establish some relatable dialect.
If you can provide a benefit for those you are networking with, they’ll be much more responsive. Versus when you’re only focusing on benefiting yourself.
Learn to read the online room. If someone isn’t responding to your messages, don’t keep blasting them with more. You should be patient and precise when networking with others. Don’t bombard people, or they’ll end up pegging you as annoying, and they won’t want anything to do with you.
If you are creating valuable content, you’ll have people engage and reach out to you directly. This makes networking easy because you are seen as someone that offers value, and people are more willing to connect. Your content can attract the network you are seeking.
Your online posts make an early impression, and when it helps people or makes their day better in some way, you make better impressions. After a while, you will start to build a following, and a valuable network will organically build itself.
When you are reaching out to individuals by messages or comments, they’ll see the value of your content and be more willing to link-up.
If you reach out to a prospective employer or customer, they should be impressed with your content, and more opportunities will follow.
If you are not providing any value, it’s harder to establish trust or make others think you’re worth connecting with.
Attend Events Both Online and Offline
Keep an eye out for online and physical events that you can attend. As big as online networking and social media is, it’s still hard to beat in-person connections.
There are events that are primarily centered around networking. However, you should also attend events that are suited to you or to your business.
Attending online webinars and virtual meetups are becoming increasingly popular. Sign up for these events with the disposition to learn something and not just to network. You never know what you may gain from a simple webinar or virtual event.
Each event you attend online or in-person can be used to gain networking and social skills.
Most everyone knows how important it is to network, but they hardly ever do anything to meet new people. The more you do new things, the more experience you’ll gain, and the more opportunities you’ll find.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Engaging with others online is the most direct way to network successfully. You should provide insightful feedback and regularly respond to others.
Businesses and people are online posting content hoping for people to engage and those that do get noticed.
Study the type of people or businesses you are trying to network with. Think about how you can deliver helpful insight on their content. Frequently engaging shows that you care not just about your own aspirations, but also the aspirations of others.
Even though we are networking online, we are all still human beings. Humans want to be heard, respected, and validated. If you’re only thinking about yourself and not engaging with other’s posts, it’ll be tough to network or gain beneficial online relationships.
Successfully networking and connecting with others online takes time and concentrated effort. You should remember that people love to talk about themselves, and they are naturally always thinking about themselves.
If you are an attentive and active listener, you’ll show others that you are not just interested in your own pursuits.
Be yourself, be friendly, be someone of value, and be consistent. Before you know it, you won’t have to put any effort into networking at all.