networking online Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
net

Networking on the Net

Are you suffering from “networking withdrawal”, missing networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. In only a few short weeks, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture, and virtual marketplace have been born. Cyber entrepreneurs, online customers, and a whole new net economy have evolved at a blinding speed.  It is no wonder so many business owners are at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the Internet and their business. The net is to the world what the printing press was hundreds of years ago. It is to the world what radio and television were only decades ago. The Internet has opened doors and opportunities these days in a way beyond anything that has preceded it.

The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking via social media and “Zoom Room” communities. These communities allow people to connect online regularly, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. Besides, staying in touch via the Internet is our only option these days of working from home during “The Great Pause”. I’ve found the net to be a very powerful mechanism for regularly connecting with people with whom I already have a casual relationship. That’s the key–that the Internet is a great tool for staying in touch with people you’ve already established a connection with. Granted, you may do some business with people that you’ve met on social media. However, for the most part, people do “repetitive” business with people they know and trust.

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

  • Understand that your business fundamentals might need to quickly adapt to the “new normal”
  • Create a social media business plan for your online marketing
  • Develop your online networking skills
  • Update your company’s look and brand with a new website to reflect what is happening with your business during “The Great Pause”
  • Learn how to network on the internet and stay connected with platforms such as “Zoom”

Those businesses that neglect to consider these issues today will most surely be a casualty of this new technology tomorrow. But more importantly, those businesses that do consider these issues today will be the success stories of tomorrow. When done properly, networking on the net can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. Not only now while we are all working from home, but when we return to our “new normal” at the office after “the Great Pause”. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful now and in the future.

Sure, I’ve seen some business relationships begin, develop, and prosper via the net. However, I have found that most repetitive referral relationships start through personal contact and are maintained via Internet communication. We live in the Internet age, where change seems to take place at light speed. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online. If you’re in business today, you need to be on the net.

Emotional Intelligence

Build a High (EQ) Emotional Intelligence

Building your “Emotional Intelligence” also known as “Emotional Quotient” or “EQ” is extremely important right now. Emotional Intelligence is the ability we have to manage our relationships with other people. EQ is the skill we developed as business owners before the pandemic to network with others face-to-face and build our “social capital”.

However, physical isolation and working from home has led to changing the way we are networking these days. We currently cannot network in person nor meet with clients at our places of business. Instead, our networking is online and our businesses are virtual. Therefore, managing our relationships with other people by building a high-EQ is even more important than ever.

The higher your Emotional Intelligence is, the more natural your ability to network will be. You can improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important online networking concepts.

Develop a dynamic online networking style

Networking is so much more than attending the typical face-to-face meet-n-greet routine events. These days, we are not attending face-to-face events; we are networking online and by telephone. Therefore, your networking style needs to also change to maintain your social capital. Developing an online networking style that is deliberate, dynamic, and habitual will help you to build higher Emotional Intelligence.

This can be done while working from home by reading books and other internet articles about online marketing and learning from others their techniques for applying your previous word-of-mouth networking skills to networking online. Adapting your networking skills will take conscious practice and application before they become habits. Build a high-EQ by creating a dynamic plan to network online these days.

Network online appropriately 

Be sensitive to the fact that we are all in this together when building your online networking style. Businesses not used to networking online promote their company with an almost vulture-like intensity. They flood social media with direct sales ads and posts about their business to people they hardly know. This will result in lowering your Emotional Intelligence. Furthermore, the business world has changed and networking has adapted to a virtual market. We are no longer able to attend face-to-face networking events to pass out our business cards, obtain transactional leads, and ask someone the ubiquitous “what do you do?”.  Instead, we need to post regularly on our social media pages, build our relationships with others, pass referrals, and ask others “How can I help?” Understanding how to network appropriately online is another sign of a high-EQ networker.

Stay connected and follow-up with others

Picking up the phone and staying connected with clients, customers, and colleagues is an area where the high Emotional Intelligence networker excels. A skillful online networker will never miss an opportunity to follow-up after an introduction to a new business contact. I recommend that you write testimonials on the social media business pages for your referral partners. Plus, reach out and do the same for those businesses you have used both personally and professionally over the years. Leave a comment on a few of their social media posts too. I also recommend that you request your clients, customers, and colleagues to write testimonials and reviews on your social media pages too. Now is a great time to create a newsletter that you can email to all your clients about the current changes to your business, special promotions, how you are helping others, and include the URL links to all your social media pages. Ask them to like and follow each of your pages in addition to a request for testimonials from them about your business.

Following up with others on referrals (received & given) is not our favorite thing, but it is something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. Pick up the phone and call. Many business people are working from home alone and do not have other people to talk to. Keeping your name, your business’s name and your expertise in front of others is very important these days. And it’s important to follow up more than once. High-EQ networkers use their telephones, social media pages and emails to network online and re-connect with each other often to build a strong long-lasting relationship.

Maintain customer loyalty

Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty with gratitude. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this makes their customers feel valued and appreciated. They will come back and refer others to you, even if you are working from home. Becoming friends with each person with whom you do business is an indicator of a high-EQ networker.

Business owners will be referred to and promoted by others because of Emotional Intelligence and their ability to develop social capital. With online networking these days, high-EQ networkers can maintain a strong word-of-mouth based business.

Online Networking

Develop Your Online Networking Skills

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.

Networking Online

Networking Online

Because of the current health situation, a lot of us are working from home. Even if you cannot go to your usual places to network face-to-face with others at mixers, meetings, or social events, you can still take action and build up your networking online.

Earlier this week, I shared some tips for working from home. Please watch this video to learn a few things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network online:

Networking Online

Take a few minutes daily to reach out to a few people each day in your network and schedule an appointment to talk to them later in the week. There are many ways to connect with others, even if not face to face. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and actually have a conversation with them. If both you and that person are comfortable with setting up a video call, I recommend connecting with them at a scheduled time on Zoom, Teams, or some other platform. Not only chat about each other’s businesses but ask how they are doing personally. Find out if there are ways you can help them. Finally, it is ok to also ask them for help. We all could use a friend these days.

Now is the time to build up your online networking with your fellow BNI® members using our newest platform: BNI Online™. This will allow you to stay in touch and attend your BNI Networking meetings virtually during these days of social isolation.

If you’re not in BNI®, we are inviting local business professionals to join us online. If you know someone looking to grow their business online during these challenging times, please invite them as our guests to our online meeting. This is a chance for them to experience BNI and networking from the comfort of their home or office.

Find a local online meeting in your area:
https://www.bni.com/find-a-chapter

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.

Looking Beyond the Hype to Get Started with Social Media

My friend, social media expert Mirna Bard, recently wrote a really great blog about getting started with social media, and I’ve pasted a portion of it below.  If you’re confused and overwhelmed when it comes to networking your business online, this is a must-read.

Looking Beyond the Hype to Get Started with Social Media

If you want to succeed with social media, as many brands have, there are some action steps you must take before you dive into the world of social media.  So, let’s strip away all the hype and go through the right steps that must be taken to help you determine if social media is appropriate for your business.

If you go through the following 10 steps in the order I list them, you will gain clarity, save time and reduce social media overwhelm.

1.    Be open-minded and change the traditional way you communicate with customers, employees, investors, partners, the media, etc.  As an entrepreneur, it is important to create a social mind-set for relationship marketing, networking, engaging and collaborating.

2.    Educate yourself and become familiar with all the categories of social media and how they can be integrated together as well as the entire marketing mix in order to leverage and maximize your efforts (see diagram below for all 15 social media categories).

3.    Pinpoint existing resources that may be needed for social media (employees, time, budget, tools, etc.).

4.    Determine if you have weaknesses in your business that may potentially hurt you online (i.e., poorly designed website or no website, bad customer service, weak content, negative comments from customers, etc.)

5.    Determine if you have strengths in your business that you can leverage online (i.e., available content such as videos, e-Books, or brand lovers who are already talking about you, etc.)

6.    See what your competitors are doing with social media.  Just observe and takes notes; do not be a copy-cat.

7.    Identify your target audience, and determine when and where they hang out online.

8.    Set clear goals and objectives.  Goals are general statements (i.e., “We want to leverage social media to improve customer service”). Objectives are more specific and measurable (i.e., “By December 2010, we want to triple traffic to our website and increase sales by 20 percent”).

9.    Decide what you want to use social media for (i.e., prospecting, recruiting, customer service, etc.) and how you want to engage your online audience.  Do you want to use social media for communication, collaboration, education, entertainment or all of them?

10.  Based on what you came up with in the last nine steps, select the social media categories and tools you want to use.  You can take a look at the diagram below for just some example of tools.  You will have to do some research online for all the tools that exist for each social media category.

There are many more factors to consider before putting together a strategy; however, if done properly, these steps will give you a clear picture of the social media landscape and help you determine whether social media is right for your business or not.

If you have already taken these steps, please share your success in the comments below.

*Mirna Bard is a social media consultant, an instructor of social media at University of California, Irvine, and a keynote speaker.  She also gives social media tips and advice on her blog http://www.mirnabard.com/blog.

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