When it comes to online networking, there are several ways to develop your word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s important to understand that the foundation of making online networking work for you is the same as with any kind of networking–you’ve got to develop relationships with trusted business associates. Here are a few tips about developing your online networking skills to build relationships and trust in an online environment.
Decide which social media platforms are best for your online networking.
- Facebook: The largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. Therefore, all business Types should have a Facebook business page.
- Instagram: This phone-based platform is completely based on sharing photos and videos. The posts on Instagram should be focused on the “Millennial” business owner as Instagram is a social media platform preferred by business owners under the age of 35. Therefore, this platform is recommended for image-based business types such as hairstylists, makeup, clothing, Realtors, and restaurants.
- LinkedIn: This is easily one of the most popular professional social networking sites used across the globe by all types of professionals and serves as an ideal platform to connect with different businesses.
- Nextdoor: This is a private social networking platform for neighborhoods allowing users to get connected with the people and local businesses in their area.
- Pinterest: This visual bookmarking social media site enables you to find new ideas for your projects. Therefore, this platform is recommended for home improvement companies, travel agents, event planners, clothing, and teachers.
- Twitter: This “current events” platform shares what is going on right now. Therefore, this platform is ideal for news agencies. Twitter also makes it possible to promote your businesses and even shop directly through tweets.
- YouTube: This is the world’s largest video-sharing social networking site that enables users to upload and share videos. Businesses should host their videos on this platform to be shared onto the other platforms.
No matter which social media platform you choose, however, after joining, you need to actively participate by posting content regularly to best grow your presence at the site. Post topics on threads that deal with your area of expertise. Respond to others’ postings on other threads if the subject is at all relevant to your area of expertise. The more you’re seen, interacted with and talked about, the more visibility you’ll gain on the site. If you do not have the time to dedicate to your pages, hire a social media coordinator to manage your pages. Here is mine, Brian Bentzen.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just create your business pages. You have to focus on building relationships with the other members online. Engage with your followers to develop real relationships with people you’re meeting in cyberspace.
Create a blog page and write blog articles.
Online networking works best when you get plenty of “hits.” You can start a blog (basically an online diary) on your website. Then, write a weekly blog article about your industry. Finally, share the link to these blogs on your social media pages. As people read your content and become familiar with you, they’ll feel like they know you and that’s integral to the networking process. Becoming an expert in an area and writing regularly about it can go a long way toward building your online networking opportunities.
Develop an e-mail newsletter for your own company.
Create a monthly newsletter about your company’s products and services. Then use a service such as “Constant Contact or MailChimp” to send this newsletter via email to your followers and clients to drive them to your website. Be sure that your newsletters contain content that has a broad spectrum of interest about your business. You might want to encourage clients and customers to contribute to your content. In doing this, you’ll build stronger relationships with them, which in turn will help you increase the number of referrals you’ll receive.
Develop online credibility.
With online networking, the bottom line is still the same as with live networking. To drive business to your company by word of mouth, you must focus on developing real, personal relationships with people. Once you’ve established that foundation of trust, you’ll feel comfortable referring people–and so will your network. The same is true with online networks, although it may take a bit longer to develop that trust over the internet. When posting online, blogging, or writing your newsletters, remember your goal is to establish trust, respect, and friendship. Please watch this video to learn some things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online.
- Use social media to attract customers
- Build ongoing relationships with customers online
- Increase brand awareness for your business
Online networking gives you breadth in your networking efforts. It allows you to broaden your reach to anywhere in the world. Just don’t forget that trust and relationship building are still as important as ever. You need to build a relationship before you ask for someone’s business.