Most people already have an online network. It exists on every social media platform, it is your friends, family and followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. Online networking is the process of growing these social networks through online communication channels.
There are some definite advantages to online networking. People may tend to avoid networking due to the pressure it can impose and the awkwardness it can bring. Online networking gives a solution to this.
The big advantages are:
- Convenience – You don’t have to plan it into your agenda or take a day off from work. The event itself usually does not take hours, there is also no travel time getting there and getting back. Online networking can happen whenever you like it to, and it can take up as much time as you need it to.
- Low cost – Networking events are hardly ever for free, you either pay for the event itself or there is a membership cost. Even if the event is for free, you always have costs getting to and from the event itself. Online networking has a low cost, as you can do it from your social media accounts or from platforms made for networking.
- Lack of pressure – With online networking you don’t have the pressure of going to a networking event. You have to find ways to slide easily into someone’s conversation or try to sell your services without trying to be across as really selling. Online networking happens by having an easy one on one conversation through a message.
- Deliberate – You plan your everyday, so why not plan your network? You can deliberately choose who you invite to your network and who not. You choose and look for people who will bring value to your network.
Of course, I am not saying that you should not go to network events, they too are very helpful, but especially in times like these a good online network can help you just as much.
I would mainly like to talk about Facebook, LinkedIn and BusinessDate. These 3 ways of doing online networking can really help your business grow. In this blog post I will tell how to online network.
Let’s first start with Facebook. Here are 4 easy to follow tips on how to create a good network on Facebook.
- We know on Facebook you mainly have you friends, family and collogues. You need to separate your friends and family from your professional network. You can do this easily with Facebook. You need to go to your friends list and click on ‘create new list’, label this list Professional network or Business. Once you have done that you can go through your friends list and add your colleagues, business partners and professional networks to this list.
- Adjust your privacy settings. As social media is just a public space, we all share pictures, funny memes, memories and lots more. I am sure there posts you don’t want your professional network to see. On your privacy page you can adjust who sees what on your profile. By customising the settings ‘accept these people’, you can choose a list of people who you would like to hide post from, or you can choose who sees certain posts.
- Join Facebook groups. There are so many Facebook groups to join. I would think about what your company is about and what you would like to achieve, from there I would look for different Facebook groups to join. Also look at what kind of interest your potential customer has and see if you can join those groups too. What is also interesting is finding groups you yourself are interested in, there you will also find like-minded people, who also could be interested in your company. Often in Facebook groups there are rules you need to follow, and you can’t always sell or promote in a group. That is ok, you just need to read what the discussions are about and join in with conversation. If you can provide a solution to the questions being asked or have an insightful point of view that can result in a potential client. You can ask them to send you a personal message and from there you can talk more about your business.
- Promote your personal brand. Facebook is a great place to promote your personal brand, through updating your status (creating posts). In your status updates you can use a certain tone of voice, you can tell friends and connection what kind of person you are. This a good space to voice your opinions and your thoughts. You can also share about your current projects personal and business related. Here you can also talk your business in a more personal way.
Now let’s see what kind of tips I can give you for LinkedIn. We already know that LinkedIn is made for professionals and for connecting with right people, but how do you network the best way on LinkedIn? Here are 4 tips on how to do just that.
- Make your profile stand out. Making a good first impression is always good when it comes to networking, whether it is online or not. Make sure you have filled out your profile and it is fully optimised. Your LinkedIn profile is like your resume, you don’t want any blank spaces or gaps. You want to look good and professional, with a good headline and telling people exactly what you do and what you specialise in. A great tip that will help your profile get found by professionals and recruiters in your industry is to use keywords. Using keywords in your headline, summary, and experience will give you an added advantage when networking.
- Connect with people. When you have over 500 connections on LinkedIn, you appear established in your industry, but you don’t want to add connections blindly. Connect with people in your industry that you could see yourself working with in the future or who could provide you with valuable insights regarding your career. When you connect with somebody, always send a personal message. Once you have done this, don’t stop there. Start liking, and sharing other people’s posts, send them a message every now and then, just to ask how they are.
- Post engaging content. Share something interesting about your company, the projects you are doing, or share an interesting article you just read. What really helps in writing your own article on LinkedIn. This shows off your expertise and can result in more people finding you on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to use hashtags on LinkedIn, these will provide for more visibility.
- Join LinkedIn groups. This will help you get noticed and make connections with industry contacts. Find groups on LinkedIn that are related to your industry and business. By joining a few active groups, your profile can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people in your industry and that’s a lot of people you can network with. Just like the Facebook group, here too you need to interact with the group. Join the conversation, answer questions, showcase your expertise and share relevant content. Try to be a valuable member of the group and less trying to sell yourself, this way people will notice you and not be annoyed by you.
Now as for BusinessDate, it is not a social media platform. It is an online business community. You can compare it a little to Facebook and LinkedIn groups. It is a public space where you can share your thoughts and interests with like-minded entrepreneurs. In these community we talk and discuss different business topics, that can help your business grow.
BusinessDate mainly focusses on being a professional network, that focuses on helping entrepreneurs find local professionals with different skill and talent sets, that can help grow your business. You can use BusinessDate to find new customers/clients, employees, freelancers and business partners. We are a big community of professionals wanting to help other professionals.
The big differences between BusinessDate and Facebook or LinkedIn groups are:
- You don’t have to be from a certain industry or have certain interests to join the group. We encourage people from different industries to join, we like to learn from each other.
- You also don’t need to be permission to join, you can join freely and invite others to join too.
- Here in this community you can get right down to networking. You don’t have to share a lot or always be a part of the conversation, if you don’t want to be.
- You can send private messages to the people you want to connect with or are interested in.
- You can also just voice what you are looking for, e.g. if you are looking for a freelancer you can just post a question and see who answers.
The only thing you should really do on BusinessDate is create a good profile for yourself. So, when people are looking for a certain type of professional, they can easily find you.
BusinessDate likes to start a discussion. The way we can help each other’s business grow is through learning from each other.
➡️ If you are interested in joining BusinessDate go to https://community.businessdate.be and create an account. It is for free.