Tips for Online Networking
85% of jobs are filled through networking. So really, that old saying about getting a job because of “who you know” is still very true. With more people taking remote jobs and ultimately living their lives online, it makes sense that networking has become more of an online experience, too. But building an online network isn’t as easy as making a couple of posts and suddenly going viral.
Creating an online network takes time and care. I’m going to share with you my personal tips for making a successful online network and how they can help you build your own.
1. Start With Understanding Your Real Goal
What is it that you truly want to get out of networking? Are you looking for a new career? Or do you want advice from someone who is established within your field? Once you know your goal, it’s much easier to see the next steps you ought to take.
Before you can get anywhere, you need to know where you ultimately want to be. From there, you can look at which people within your field (or a brand-new field) can offer you advice on how to get there.
2. Network Early and Often
You should already network online before you’re out of a job and looking for a new one. You should not have to be building a network from scratch while you’re jobless. This is a point stressed in one of the best videos for entrepreneurs on Youtube.
Luckily, online networking makes this easier with platforms like LinkedIn. You can comment on interesting posts from important people in your chosen field or even take part in industry forums. Check your feed a few times a week and maintain your online presence. It will help people remember you as someone who knows what they’re talking about in your work arena.
This way, when you find you need advice, a referral, or even a job, you already have a strong network of contacts that you can use to your advantage.
3. Try a Lot of Different Networking Platforms
Of course, everyone thinks of LinkedIn for online networking, but other platforms like Meetup or even Instagram can be great resources as well.
Meetup allows people with shared interests to gather and share ideas or simply enjoy a hobby together in person.
Following people you admire within your chosen field on Instagram can lead to some great relationships. Did someone you follow post a really inspiring video? Leave a comment that shows how much you appreciate their words of wisdom. You can also share their content, using it as inspiration for your own thoughts on the topic.
4. Find the Right People for Online Networking
While it’s always great to connect with popular thought leaders, remember that everyone else is trying to connect with them, too. Instead of focusing only on those one or two major players, you should really put your focus into connecting with peers. These are the people who work “in the trenches” and may one day be the people you’re working alongside.
If you’re looking to join a specific company, don’t just try to connect with the CEO. Really, you should connect with the people who work there as employees. Any connections inside the company will help you, and you’re more likely to actually get conversations going with those people than you would with the CEO.
Also, you should not be limiting yourself to connecting with just the people you think can help you. Don’t focus on just making powerful friends — establishing any sort of online network with your peers can help you feel you belong and will help you stay engaged.
5. Get Involved In Good Conversations
Remember that networking is an ongoing process. You can’t just wait for people to come to you.
Become an active part of your networking community. When you’ve shared some information or one of your learning experiences on a networking platform, reply to all the responses from other people and see how you can deepen the conversation.
If someone’s post goes viral, share your own insights on it and create productive conversations in the comments section.
Also, get involved in some great forums. You can share your insights and credibility while also interacting with others and creating actual connections with thoughtful discussions.
6. Focus On Building Strong Relationships
If you want to create deep relationships with your online network, show how you can help others out when they need it. A point made by the author of one of the best books for entrepreneurs.
You can share someone’s blog post or video, or you could promote their webinar that you think could be helpful to the other people in your network. If someone has posted their resume or portfolio online, you can share that with your followers and maybe help their career.
Instead of looking out just for yourself, you can establish yourself as someone that other people can rely on. This makes you more trustworthy among your peers and lets people know that you’re reliable and a good collaborator.
This way, when it’s time for you to ask for some help, you’re not simply dropping an email into a stranger’s inbox, hoping they’ll help you with no real understanding of who you are or why they would even want to help you. They’ll want to see how they can support you because you’ve proven that you are willing to make other people feel valued.
7. Stay Positive
Be patient while you’re building out your online network. Virtual interactions can take longer to happen than if you were face-to-face, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get too many connections at the beginning of your networking journey.
Stay optimistic that your efforts will pay off because networking is a long game. Keep going, and remember that you’re here to create positive experiences with new people, so a positive attitude will be absolutely necessary.
Setting Yourself Up for Success in Online Networking
As you explore the world of online networking, remember these key steps. Building out your online network should not feel like a chore. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to make yourself a better and more interesting person who can bring value to the people around you.
When you are willing to put in the work, your online network will flourish.
Thanks to Erik Bergman for collaborating with this article.
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