Networking is a long term relationship building activity. We like to trust in the people we buy from. Traditionally networking is face-to-face.
Online, as with offline networking, there are many places that we can meet people. Social media groups such as Facebook, blogs and Twitter are great examples. Here you must understand the “rules of engagement”, but generally they are the same as offline; you must always be seen as professional, but authentic too.
Sometimes this is a difficult balance to achieve online, when everything is written down or recorded for playback.Digital marketing opens you up to public scrutiny. Forums, blogs and social sites have been the ruin of many a reputation online. It is important, therefore, to teach yourself and your staff the importance of acting responsibly online so as not to engage in any controversy.
After all, it’s the people who make a company, and it is also the people who can let it down. It is also important to monitor what is being said about your business online.
Although we would never suggest you stop meeting with people face-to-face, online networking does have its advantages and these are detailed below:
- Time: travelling to and from an event can take up time in your day that could be used for working on or in your business.
- Costs: networking groups often charge a fee. Online networking is generally free, and there are no travelling expenses to be incurred.
- Fear: some people are a little nervous about meeting people for the first time, and online networking eliminates that completely.
- Speed: you may be able to respond fairly quickly to a question online, because you are more likely to have all your resources at hand.
Professional Online Networking
LinkedIn is the professionals’ choice of social media, and is something that you should consider using in your business if you do not already do so. All the Fortune 500 Companies are there, and they are there for a reason. LinkedIn can be optimized for the search engines and is a great place to get introduced to people through their site. It is also a great place to pitch yourself as the expert that you are, by simply asking and answering questions. Furthermore, LinkedIn is a great place where you can showcase your testimonials; add videos, share files and more.