Networking has always been a necessary activity for all salespeople, business development professionals, business owners and many other departments in most businesses. We will all agree that business is an interactive and social venture whether it takes place in person or online.
Very few businesses could survive without their employees maintaining and nurturing current relationships while also making new connections, also most jobs are procured through networking, not applying online, (sorry LinkedIn).
Traditionally, networking happened mainly through face to face meetups, at trade shows, professional events, happy hours, traditional networking groups and professional association activities. Although, in this new age of technology, and made even easier by the ranks of Zoom, Adobe connect, Go to meetings and many others, plus fueled by the pandemic, these days online and virtual networking have taken a large chunk out of face to face and traditional networking.
There are some of us which online networking was a natural extension of in person activity but not for all of us. For those of you who may want some tips to help you hone your online networking skills we’ve listed a few tips to help you maximize your online networking experiences.
You must Give to Get.
The “Give to Get” motto is, give value added before expecting reciprocation, it works both in face to face as well as online networking. You shouldn’t go into any networking situation with your first though being “what can I get out of this”, new business, a new client, or a new job. Yes, that is the goal you’re hoping for, but to arrive at that point you’ll need to bring something to the table for the individual your looking to network with, something of value. It could be, beneficial knowledge sharing, a skill you can apply to their benefit, or a beneficial introduction they are seeking. Whatever it is, always go into the conversation thinking how can I help them. The more beneficial to them your value added is the quicker they’ll want to reciprocate to keep the relationship moving forward.
Pick the platforms most beneficial to you.
There is no shortage of social networking platforms, and everyone knows the big names, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These platforms are helpful with meeting new people, but don’t overlook the benefits of the lesser known business & professional group communities and platforms or try to get access to private networks and platforms managed by industry associations or individual businesses.
Keep in mind joining and working too many platforms can be time consuming. So to achieve the best possible results and make the best use of your time it may be worthwhile to concentrate on platforms or communities which provide and use technology to help you meet the right people. If Not, you could be wasting a lot of time without receiving much of a return on your investment.
(View a related article on digital marketing)
Remember Value added, Not Spammy.
As mentioned earlier, provide value added, its critical not to start a potential relationship with spam it may be the first and last conversation you have with them. Sometimes even the free added value you are using to collect data are viewed by people as fake of spam.
Treat it like a first date, (after all, you are trying to develop a relationship) ask people about themselves then participate in the conversation show interest in their responses, seek out their interest business and personal. People respond and want to be around others whom they feel they are connecting with, whether it be in person or online. Find common ground with whom you are speaking with then forward them an article on those topics. Be genuine, then when the opportunity presents itself try to take the conversation offline to a Zoom meeting or meet face to face, (and until the situation changes follow proper social distancing guidelines and local regulations, of course).
So many connections to make so little time to make them.
Connect with the right people, it just seems to be common sense. But doing so is probably the most essential piece of the networking puzzle. So many people so many choices on whom you can connect with, but the question is whom should you connect with?
To make it easy, its most advantageous for both parties if your connecting and engaging with people who you can help (remember, give to get). Identifying those people is harder than you may think. It takes an investment of some time to learn about a person and learning if they are someone who you can help may not present itself so quickly.
Therefore, invest some time and effort into researching the platforms you’re engaging on, does their technology provide assistance providing and driving introductions to you, is it helpful, make one to one intelligent connections on your behalf, These attributes increase the likelihood that connections will become something which is meaningful and mutually beneficial
If these features aren’t present in the platform you are engaging on, try creating an ideal contact profile which mirrors current beneficial connections. Then do the necessary manual leg work to narrow down the field of candidates that fit your profile. Reach out to all of them with an engaging connection request following up promptly on any connection request you receive, don’t make it pitchy, remember “Give to Get”