When you’re self employed or looking to build a company, networking is crucial. Meeting new people can help you learn new things, share your knowledge and increase the reach of your work. You never know where that new connection could lead you or who they can put you in touch with.
Not everyone has the time to constantly attend networking events in person, but the internet has got you covered. The growth of social media has been a brilliant development when it comes to networking, and now you can connect with people around the world at the touch of a button. Here are some of our top tips for using the internet to build your network.
Pick your platforms carefully
Whilst you don’t really want to be putting all of your eggs in one basket, you also don’t want to be spreading yourself too thin, either. Take the time to figure out which platforms the people you’d like to connect with are active on, and factor in which ones you enjoy using too.
Realistically, LinkedIn should be your first port of call when it comes to online networking, but don’t discount the likes of Twitter or Facebook either. Both are great tools for connecting with people in your industry, and can definitely be used to your advantage. Twitter lists are brilliant for categorising the people you follow with ease, and Facebook is full of groups that are jam packed with people you can chat with.
To boost your profile online, you have to spend some time online. It’s important to keep up with your online presence and share regular updates. These updates don’t always have to be about you, or what you’re up to, either - you can share articles you’ve enjoyed or boost the work of other people in your network, too.
How often you post or interact is up to you, and should suit your own schedule, but still maintain some regularity. Posting multiple times a day for a week then going silent for a month might not give the best first impression!
Social media is social
Engagement is key. Be sure to pay attention to the people you’re following and interact with their content on a regular basis. It could be something as simple as endorsing them on LinkedIn or retweeting one of their tweets - but it’ll show them that you’re there, and that you’re listening.
If you enjoy someone’s work, tell them! People love a confidence boost and it’s a great way to kickstart a conversation. Share their blog posts, congratulate them on their achievements and support the people you want to support. What goes around, comes around.
You can’t ignore the offline world. Have a look at what’s happening in your industry and find ways to interact with it online. Is there a great conference happening for your sector, but it’s halfway around the world and you can’t make it? Check out what hashtags they’re using, see who’s interacting and who’s attending and engage with them online.
As great as online connections are for building your network, the best relationships tend to be cemented face-to-face. Don’t be afraid to take it offline and meet up with people in your area to talk shop. Off travelling somewhere new? Share a post mentioning where you’re going to be and ask if anyone wants to grab a coffee! Online networking should be just one part of building new connections, not the be all and end all.
- Spruce up your LinkedIn with a clear headline explaining who you are, what you do and add a recent profile image
- Make sure your social media bios are all up to date and clearly highlight what you do
- Add relevant website links to your profiles and showcase your best work
- Find and follow ten new people on Twitter who are relevant to your industry - try and interact with them whenever possible
- Pay attention to the content the people in your network create and interact with what they share to get on their radar
- Share a post about what you’re working on at the moment and ask for feedback
- Find someone on social media you’d like to learn from or get to know better, and invite them out for coffee