How to Make Online Networking Work for You

How to Make Online Networking Work for Youstring(42) "How to Make Online Networking Work for You"

While anyone with a computer or phone can access social media sites, getting results from online networking takes forethought.

Consider your personal and time management preferences. Do you like computer-based interactions? Do you enjoy spending time online? How much time can you realistically devote to intentional networking? If online living isn’t your thing, that’s okay. There is no right or wrong, just degrees of preference.

Online networking is a means to an end

A little time online can be leveraged to great effect when you use that time for connecting with new contacts or doing follow-up with people you have already met. As I talk about in my book, Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition, it is important to determine in advance how many hours per day or week you are truly willing to devote to online networking.

How do you prefer to use that time?

  • Keeping your profiles updated
  • Contributing to discussions in online groups
  • Posting to your blog
  • Reading and responding to comments
  • Which online networking platforms are best for you?

Pick the ones where your target market hangs out and is active. This will ensure that you are connecting with the people who are potential clients and customers. As with any kind of business networking, your objective is to develop social capital.

Your online interactions

Learn the difference between interactions that move you and your online community members toward productive relationship building, and those that simply suck time and energy.

If someone asks a question that you can answer, that is an opportunity to be helpful while displaying your knowledge. You can build professional credibility by sharing information about your expertise without giving a sales pitch. Be careful, though, when comments veer into opinion; an offhand remark may go viral and result in unintended consequences.

Will your investment of time, energy and caring on behalf of other networkers be reciprocated in ways that you find meaningful? Only you can define what meaningful means to you, and only you can decide whether your interactions and time investment are productive.

No matter how many sites you are active on, be very clear with yourself – and with others – about your motives and goals. Stay positive, informative, and value oriented. When done right, with proper respect and consistency, social media can be a legitimate tool in branding and raising the awareness people have of you in the business community.

Networking

Networking In-Person, Online, or a Blend?string(41) "Networking In-Person, Online, or a Blend?"

In 2017, I was sitting in the back of a senior leadership meeting for BNI.  The group was talking about the future of the organization and what we saw ahead of us as opportunities and challenges.  Someone from the group looked over at me and said, “you’re the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, what do you see for the future of the company?”  I stood in the room and boldly said that because of advancements in mixed reality and holographic technologies, I thought the future of networking was likely to be online.  While I thought that would raise eyebrows – instead, it raised voices.  “No way,” was the overwhelming chorus of voices in response to my proclamation. The pushback was almost complete (with the exception of a few of the millennials in the room).

“Really?” asked one incredulous participant.  “Really, you’re the Founder of the world’s largest in-person networking organization and you honestly think that we will transition to online!?”   “Never,” said another person in the room. “I can’t believe that you would think that.” 

I re-learned a valuable lesson that day – when you have a bold vision, don’t just blurt it out.  Instead, ease people into that vision.  People aren’t receptive to massive change at first, they need to be eased into that change whenever possible [see The Cat’s on The Roof blog to see how to do that].

Recognizing the error of my ways, over the next year I began to talk at company events about disruption and how companies could become complacent in the delivery of their services and how they sometimes don’t see the train coming down the tracks at them. I spoke about Kodak, Sears, and Blockbuster as examples of what happens if a company is complacent with their operations.  I hoped that these stories would get them thinking about how we might be disrupted if we were not careful.  I later wrote about this type of disruption on Entrepreneur.com after I had been talking about it for well over a year.

In December 2018, I wrote another article for Entrepreneur about the change that I saw coming in networking organizations, a change like the one I suggested a year earlier that caused such a vocal reaction when I brought it up.  I re-introduced this concept more than a year after I first blurted it out because I felt that I had laid the groundwork more effectively over the previous year.  It was my formal prediction in this article that the future of face-to-face meetings would be online.  Over time, I referred people in my organization to these two articles to help prepare them mentally for what I believed to be coming. Granted, I foresaw this development because of the emergence of technology and not a virus, but I saw it coming, nonetheless.

In mid-January of 2020, I was at a mastermind event where we were doing an exercise lead by Kian Gohar, Founder of Geolab. It was his “Moonshot Exercise.”   In it, he asked us to create a vision that we wanted to be embraced within our organization.  My vision was that by the end of 2020, the senior management of our company would see the inevitable fact that the future of networking would be, at least in part, online.  Little did I know that by the end of that very month, we would embrace that vision.

Credit needs to go to the CEO of BNI, Graham Weihmiller, who saw that Covid was going to be a far bigger problem in the world than anyone else in our organization thought (or people from most organizations for that matter).   By the end of January, he had transitioned some of BNI in Asia to online.  By February, he had transitioned much of Europe and by March of 2020, he, the franchisees, members, and the Global Support Team, had transitioned the entire organization to online.  This was no small feat.  In January of 2020, the company had 9,700 networking groups that were meeting in-person, every week!  By March of 2020, we had over 9,700 groups meeting online every week!  This was a pivot of monumental proportions.

Since that time, the company has added more than 400 additional chapters bringing the total number of networking groups to over 10,100 world-wide.  Virtually all of these groups were meeting online for most of 2020.  What seemed completely unfathomable to most people a couple of years earlier became the norm in just two years.

The question now within the company is – “what does the future hold for meetings going forward?”  The answer to that question has not been settled but it is under discussion.  That process has begun with a survey of over 2,300 members from around the world asking them if they would like their networking meetings to be:

1) In Person Only,

2) Online Only, or

3) A Blend of Online and In Person Meetings.

As you can see in the results below, one third of the participants of this survey wanted to go back completely to “In Person” Meetings.  However, 16% wanted to stick with “Online Meetings Only, and a whopping (considering the attitude just two years prior) of almost 51% of the survey respondents were in favor of a blend of meeting both in-person, and online.

Networking

What was unthinkable to most leaders in the organization just a few years earlier was now very possible for two thirds of the people surveyed by the organization.

Because of the continuous advancements in technology, the move to online networking meetings was inevitable.  The spread of Covid simply expedited the imminent disruption that lay ahead.

Lead the disruption or be disrupted.  That is the mantra that entrepreneurs must embrace to survive in the 21st century.  For networking groups, that means that it is time to embrace the inevitable transition to meeting online.  That said, I do believe that a blended approach is perfect at this time. For most businesspeople, meeting in person and shaking someone’s hand (when it is safe for us to do that again) has no online equivalent.

What are your thoughts about these ideas?

Has online networking been effective for you and your business?

your C.P.A.

Do Not Allow Your C.P.A. To Ruin Your Businessstring(46) "Do Not Allow Your C.P.A. To Ruin Your Business"

We are living in a world more connected than ever. However, this hyperconnectivity can create situations when your C.P.A. can effect your business. Working from home can easily lead to a state of “Continuous Partial Attention” (your C.P.A.). This occurs when people are only partially paying attention to others during their online networking or Zoom meetings.  There are some definite pitfalls in our hyper-connected world when we are not giving our full attention to others. Your business relationships and networking may be affected because of your C.P.A. in these three situations.

Monitor your C.P.A. when attending your online networking meetings

Continuous partial attention can hamper your relationship-building efforts – on both a personal and professional level. When attending an online function of any type, it is becoming increasingly common to find people typing away during the meeting. They remain connected to their emails and social media networks during their meeting. This desire can dilute our efforts by driving us to stay “live” online with other things instead of with the person in front of us. You can easily watch them on camera not paying attention to the meeting. Even worse, they fall asleep in their recliner during the online Zoom meeting with their camera live for all to see until they are awoken by another chapter member calling their phone.

Keep your C.P.A. away from your phone 

Speaking of phones. We have probably all experienced being in conversation with someone at an in-person networking function and getting pinged during the conversation. This is happening much more now during online meetings. When we take our attention off what is happening in front of our nose to take a look at what is happening on our phone, we lose the connection with the person who is presenting. We will not remember this part of the conversation well, if at all. And we send a subtle message to this person that he or she does not matter as much as the various pings coming in on our mobile device do.

Our desire to connect and be connected is one of the strengths of business networking. Therefore, when doing online networking, or when we return to in-person events, we will want to effectively be connecting with others. Over the years, I saw people many times on their phones texting during networking meetings, such as at a BNI chapter meeting, a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, or even a gala dinner event.

Be honest: whom do you greet first when you get up in the morning — your spouse, kids, the dog, OR your virtual community? Do you reach for your phone before you even throw your legs out of bed to get up? I have found myself doing that. Consider waiting to look at your mobile phone until after you are ready to receive messages. For me, I wait to turn it on until after I am up, have exercised, showered, and had my breakfast. Furthermore, I think social media is great. I use it regularly to stay in touch and build relationships. But knowing when to focus on your networking and not your phone is extremely important in this digital age.

Do not allow your C.P.A. to distract you when working online

Most of us work from our computers, laptops, or tablets with notifications switched on. Our email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Teams, and WeChat accounts are sending us notifications. Across your screen, they distract you with their messages. “Look at me! Someone retweeted you! Someone wants to be your Friend!” Even people who do not have ADD are working in a state of attention deficit due to the distraction all these notifications cause.

It is very easy to lose track of whom you have just followed up with. You end up sending your follow-up email twice. You reference something you were discussing with someone else. Worse yet, you send an email to the wrong person entirely. (Who hasn’t done that?) Continuous partial attention keeps you from being alert, attentive, and focused and can hamper your post-event follow up not to mention your day-to-day activities.

Don’t allow your C.P.A. to ruin your business. Continuous partial attention can hamper your efforts to build profitable business relationships with the people you want to connect with. I believe a price is being paid by how this constant connectedness is affecting our real-time relationships. The truth is that our brains are not capable of multi-tasking. Brains don’t work like a computer, which can have many programs running simultaneously. Our minds have to switch among tasks. Some of us can task-switch extremely quickly, seemingly multi-tasking, but we are not actually multi-tasking. Others of us task-switch with a little more difficulty, making it extremely challenging to really pay sustained attention to anything when we try to multi-task.

Frog

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In generating referrals for your business online, you want to network more with a prince and less with a frog. You will kiss a few frogs at first before finding good referral sources. Someday, your prince will come. How can you be sure that you are a networking prince or princess and not a frog?

The Characteristics of The Networking Frog

  • Always asking for referrals, introductions, and favors but rarely reciprocates
  • Does not ask about your business, goals, and ideal customers
  • Often reschedules the appointment
  • Does not return your phone calls and emails
  • Rarely goes out of the way to help you
  • Inconvenienced when complying with your request for assistance
  • Talks excessively about their business
  • Rarely asks you questions and does not listen
  • Quickly turns the conversation back to their business.
  • Their attention is not focused on you with continued eye contact

Make sure that you are not a “Networking Frog” by displaying these characteristics when networking online. Just do the opposite of what a frog does to become a Networking Prince (or Princess).

A Great Example of The Networking Prince

Jerry is always giving referrals and making introductions for his referral partners, many times before they even ask. Jerry is constantly going out of his way to help people with their businesses because he has invested the time and energy to learn what his referral partners are looking for in a potential client. When you talk to Jerry, you feel listened to — he maintains eye contact and focuses on you. You almost have to force him to share about his business and how you can help him. You can count on Jerry to follow up on referrals you send him promptly, and he returns your calls and emails within a day or two. If you run into Jerry at a networking event, he’s greeting new people with a smile, introducing them to others, and just being generally helpful. After an encounter with Jerry, you feel like royalty!

Identifying if someone is a networking prince or frog can be difficult in your first meeting. It takes time to discover someone’s networking nature. Therefore, know and look out for the characteristics of a networking frog. Sometimes networking frogs pretend to be royalty at online networking events. Their scales and warts reveal themselves later in follow-up interactions with them. While networking online, you will kiss a few frogs before finding the true princes (and princesses). Just make sure that you are not being a Networking Frog yourself. Pattern your networking skills after my friend Jerry, and you will become known far and wide, throughout the land, as networking royalty.

Zoom

The 12x12x12 Zoom Rulestring(22) "The 12x12x12 Zoom Rule"

What is the 12x12x12 Zoom rule? In 2010, I introduced the original 12x12x12 rule when attending in-person networking events in my book, “Networking Like a Pro”. Ten years later, with all of us using our computers for online networking, I adapted the 12x12x12 rule in 2020 for Zoom.

What do you look like 12 feet around you?

Since everyone is broadcasting from home these days, it is important to pay attention to the setting of your personal meeting location. Make sure what people will see behind you is as professional as possible. Remove the visible clutter around you and close the door to keep your kids, or cats, from interrupting the call. If you are using a virtual background, choose something related to your industry. However, keep the background photo professional, like bookshelves or an office setting. Do not use a tropical beach background, unless you work on a beach or as a travel agent. Remember, your background says a lot about you. Hang a solid-colored green sheet behind you as an easy green screen when using a virtual Zoom background.

What do you look like 12 inches away from your web camera?

Have you dressed appropriately for the meeting? I mean, are you FULLY DRESSED for the meeting with both a professional top and bottom? Too many stories have been shared on the TV news about people getting up from their chairs and being caught in pajama pants, athletic shorts, or unfortunately even less. I’ve been known to wear sweat pants on camera but never wear something (or not wear enough) that would end up with you on the TV news. Make sure your hair is combed and you are not eating on camera. Plus, be prepared with a pen and notepad to take notes.

What are the first 12 words out of your mouth on Zoom?

This is the most important point. Have you thought about what you are going to say to someone else at a networking event? The worst time to think about what you want to say is when you are saying it. Think about concise ways you can get your points across: what you want to say about your business, your target market, the benefits of your product or service, etc. Finally, use a microphone so that everyone can clearly hear you

Before you log in to your next online networking event or Zoom meeting, remember these tips, and verify that you are following the 12x12x12 Zoom rule. 

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

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Your business thrives by networking. Staying in touch is an important part of the networking process. Networking is much more than making contact with others and getting new business from them. The golden rule of networking is staying in touch with your clients. You strengthen your business relationships by fostering solid relationships with clients.

During “The Great Pause of 2020”, we started working from home. We created a plan to get through this situation with our businesses. Because we could not go to our usual places to network face-to-face with others, we took action and learned how to network online to stay in touch with people. Now, we need to plan on what we are going to do when society returns to the “new normal”. We need to get back in touch with those people that you have not seen or spoken with recently by focusing on strengthening these business relationships.

Here are six ways for staying in touch with your clients and strengthening your business relationships:

Spread out your phone calls.

Regular contact is important right now regardless of the type of relationship with your clients. Two short phone calls are more beneficial than one long call. Each phone call becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to enhance your credibility.

Schedule the phone calls predictably.

Stay in contact with your clients. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. If you usually contact certain customers during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and will budget time for you.

One phone call leads to the next phone call.

Before concluding your telephone conversation, schedule the date of your next phone call. With this commitment, you are more likely to follow through. This practice establishes a chain of contacts, with each phone call leading to the next.

Assume responsibility for your phone calls.

Take the initiative and stay in touch with your customers. When clients do not feel cared for, they are more likely to leave. You are more likely to head off potential problems by staying in touch with them by picking up the telephone and calling them these days.

Invite them to your online networking events.

One way of making sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite them to join you at your online networking events. This is a great way to introduce your customers to other people.

Stick to your plan for staying in touch with your clients

Occasionally your clients will telephone you. Do not let this interfere with your contact schedule. Do not count it as one of your prescheduled phone calls when they initiate the phone call.

People need their network, now more than ever. Maintain a powerful personal network by telephoning your clients and adopting these tips right now. You will have a stronger business tomorrow because of the actions you take today by staying in touch with your clients.

Online Networking Meetings

The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking Meetingsstring(50) "The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking Meetings"

The technology that exists today is great.  When I started BNI 35 years ago, we couldn’t do any of this.  We all had to quickly learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy this year. Naturally, there’s a great deal of overlap between face-to-face and online networking. However, networking online works only when you are engaged during your online networking meetings to learn about each other.  Therefore, you need to practice active listening so that you leave your online networking meetings with more ideas on how to refer your networking partners. Now, more than ever, you need your network to work together and support each other by networking online.

Seven Tips for Your Online Networking Meetings

Watch this video to learn how you can make your online networking meetings more successful:

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

It will still be a while until we can attend face-to-face networking events again. Therefore, we need to attend online networking meetings instead. Online networking meetings will never replace in-person networking, but they work well together. If you remember these tips during your next online networking meeting, you will maintain a powerful personal network that will be even stronger once we return to in-person networking again.

What tips do you have for attending your online networking meetings? I would love to read your suggestions. Please share them in the comments below.

net

Networking on the Netstring(21) "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

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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 Skillsstring(37) "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.

Introverts

Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Daysstring(45) "Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Days"

Being an introvert is not a networking handicap and is an advantage these days of online networking due to social distancing and self-isolation while working from home. A common assumption is that a “people-to-person” is the best type of networker. But this isn’t necessarily true. Though introverts often eliminate themselves from networking because they aren’t good at initializing conversations, they are better at the part of networking that’s more important to the relationship-building process.

Networking is a two-part process. First, you have to meet someone new and share information about yourself. The extrovert may be better at this first part of the process when face-to-face; but the introvert is better at the second part — listening to the person he or she just met online. Plus, introverts are better at asking questions. Here are a few more tips for online networking and for working at home.

Introverts and Extroverts

So, if you are introverted, put down that book and reach out to others. Stop using that as an excuse not to network. There are many techniques you can use to make online networking easier and more natural for you to greet people and introduce yourself. Networking is a skill that can be learned — regardless of your level of gregariousness. Even if you’re not outgoing or gregarious, you can form meaningful relationships with others online and support each other’s businesses.

Furthermore, if you are extroverted, stop using your isolation from working from home as an excuse not to network. Most entrepreneurs depend directly on others and have a comfort level in dealing with people. For extroverts, referral-based online marketing is still one of the best ways to build your business these days.

Take advantage of online training workshops these days that you can do from the comfort of your home office. These can teach you how to online network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in an online networking setting.

You don’t have to be a people person to network, you just have to be willing to listen. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person. Once you know the other person, it’s much easier to grow each other’s business.

It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?string(34) "It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?"

How many times have we heard people say that it never hurts to ask? Surely more times than we can count. 

Well, in this video, I explain why it definitely hurts to ask sometimes–especially if you ask to soon!  I share a personal story of a recent time when a stranger contacted me via LinkedIn wanting to connect and accompanied the connection request with a note asking me something which I found inappropriate to the point that I decided right then that I was never even going to consider connecting with her.

Watch the video to hear the story and to find out why I flagged the woman’s LinkedIn request as problematic on three significant levels.  Let me just say that this is ‘Networking 101’ and if I were her teacher, she would have gotten a failing grade–this is not the way to network!  Whether you frequently participate in face-to-face networking, online networking, or both, you’ll definitely want to hear this story so you never make the three mistakes that this woman did.

I’d really love to hear your feedback on this.  What are your thoughts?  Also, please share any similar horror stories you may have in the comment forum below–I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks!

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