We wanted to share our tips about online and offline networking and encourage you to use them in conjunction.
Networking can be interpreted in many ways but activities should include:
- Going to networking events, parties, trade shows, and other gatherings where you meet new people
- Making sure you keep in touch with those people
- Connecting those people with other people you know, where it would be of mutual benefit
- Meeting people again for “1-2-1s” and finding out more about their businesses
- Joining a group such as BNI, NRG, Business Junction, Athena, or Chambers of Commerce where you meet regularly to continue to get to know other members.
- Building relationships with other business people and showing yourself as an expert in your field as well as a nice reliable and helpful person.
All of these are typical of traditional networking.
What we are seeing now is that there are a lot of online groups as well. These have been around for many years and their usage is growing. Examples include Ecademy, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
There are many benefits to making proper use of these:
- They are way you can control your online reputation and raise your profile – if you are conscious about how all content you post online can affect this.
- They are easily found by search engines so if people “Google” you then your profile can come up so its good if it shows you off as an expert in your field and a nice friendly person.
- Social networking websites are extremely low cost and has huge potential for spreading your sphere of influence.
- You can see who your contacts know and ask for introductions, and use their list of contacts as a reference point in your 1-2-1s
- It’s important to put some effort into your profile so you really show off your skills/personality/etc – best to look at other’s on the same website to see what to follow – or ask us!
- If you do have Facebook Profile, a Blog or a Twitter account, all of this can be interlinked with your online profile – to take people on an online journey all about you and how great you are!
- Status updates can remind you of what others are doing and prompt you to get back in touch with them
And now the crux – offline PLUS online – combined!
- We really would encourage you to get in touch with people when you have met them in real life via searching for them on one of the online networks where you may both be a member. Why?
- It’s an ice breaker, and means you have something else in common
- You can read a bit about them on their profile before you get in touch and then have more to talk about
- Once you connect with them on an social networking site, you can be “friends” or “contacts” which means your status updates and news announcements get fed to each other’s news feeds.
- On an ongoing basis you can see when your new contact has done something new – like posted a blog, or visited a place you have been to, or made a contact you know – and this can prompt you to get in touch again to discuss this new topic.
- As above, if you meet someone online, meet them in real life and really get to know them on a 1-2-1 basis. The right contacts in your network can make the world of difference! As Dave Clark from NRG says, you will build up a network of advocates – people who recommend you and speak highly of you once they have gotten to know you and understand your business.
We have seen time and time again the magic of this – and we have many stories about it we would love to share. Please call us on 020 7486 2629 and we can tell you all about them – and also help you with your online profiles, the content of your status updates and blogs, and getting your head around all the technicalities – it really is easy once you learn how!
We are also offering one on one training sessions on these – email us if you would like to know more.
The Social Networking websites we wanted to recommend as a good starting point:
Some people find it annoying to join Ecademy because all sorts of random people contact you when you join, but you can adjust the permissions (go to “My Settings” and then “Notifications”) so you don’t have this happening.
We recommend to stick with Ecademy, it’s really brilliant once you get the hang of it!
There is a very good searchable database on Ecademy, and you can use this for looking up people’s profiles, putting up your own, and contacting people who YOU would want to talk to. They would the look at your profile so it’s good to make sure this is properly finished.
See here for Keren’s profile.
This is all about status updates and “following people” – you can follow Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, and Barack Obama – and Top Left Design of course!
This is a very worthwhile network and and it’s full of people in the corporate world as well as SME owners – so it has GREAT potential! Most people are on LinkedIn even if they are somewhere in their career.
If you would like to know more about this or indeed how to make better use of Social Media within your business and website, please get in touch!