Networking is essential for any professional or business owner. Over the years, networking has changed considerably, with the vast majority being conducted online nowadays. But, are you networking effectively? There is a big difference between networking and simply liking other people’s posts or seeing how many connections you can get on LinkedIn. With that in mind, read on for five top tips for successful online networking.

  1. Start local – When you are first getting started with online networking, it is a good idea to stay local. You may think that this is counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the whole point of using the Internet to reach a global audience? While this is true, and there are many benefits to gain by reaching your immediate geography in some situations, there are advantages of starting in your own backyard. This means that you will build a social network and have a better shot of meeting face-to-face, which will help you to establish quality connections that you can build on.

  2. Find a shared point of reference – When you are looking for people to connect with, it is good to look for something you have in common, for example, causes and volunteering, clubs and organisations, previous employers, or your hometown. By referencing this when reaching out to the person, it gives them a reason to connect with you, offering a good conversation starter.

  3. Have a clear reason for choosing the person in question – You need to have a clear reason for wanting to meet the person in question. The person will be more likely to give you some of their valuable time if you give them a reason why you need to meet them specifically.

  4. Put some thought in – Before you meet with someone, you need to put some thought into what it is that you are asking for. This ensures that there is a clear structure and that the person you are meeting has a distinct idea of what it is you want and how/if they are able to assist. Don’t be vague – lines like “I want to pick your brain” or “I would like to meet you” just don’t work. Would you want to give someone your time if they simply said that?

  5. Ask for the meeting – A valuable contact is not made by simply connecting with someone on LinkedIn. You need to talk to the person, preferably face-to-face, but if that is not possible, a video chat will suffice. This is the only way to learn from someone or get the help that you need.

So there you have it – some top tips to help you with online networking. As mentioned, online networking should be viewed as a starting point, you then need to connect with the person face-to-face. Of course, this is not always geographically possible, but with video chat available nowadays, you can use this instead.

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