Networking got you down?
Having a Rolodex filled with visiting cards used to once be the defining symbol of networking success. Today, that hardware has been replaced with the number of connections you have on networking sites or the number of followers you have for your thought leadership micro-blogs.
Networking doesn’t have to mean flying to conferences around the world to make that next connect. You could just as easily spend a few hours a week on professional networking sites to reach out to new business contacts or cement existing relationships.
Networking made efficient
In the pre-social networking era, the only way to network was to meet, meet, meet. Scheduled business meetings, conferences, workshops and seminars, or networking events like luncheons and cocktail hours hosted by various vendors.
By moving the process online, an individual can reach out to far more people, faster. Plus you cut the travel time, flight and hotel expenses to zero and connect with a several dozen people instead of the 10-15 meetings you could have managed at an offline-networking event.
Get more connects
By moving the conversation online, you may also find more people willing to connect. After all, they probably spent big bucks on that offline face to face event and will only give you a meeting if they feel you’re exactly what they want. Online, you could connect, share posts, build a rapport and then make an approach and pique their interest to secure a meeting.
The big advantage with online networking is you can conduct reasonably good level checks on your potential partner or prospective client. Online networking sites allow you to see shared connections, credentials, track records and even testimonials. This will allow you to whet the people you reach out to, and pre-qualify them before spending time on making a presentation or soliciting a pitch.
The thundering success of online networking sites like LinkedIn has spawned a number of specialised sites. Are you a solo business owner? Connecting on Flying Solo is a great way to meeting people in the same boat.
Or perhaps you are a businesswoman in Australia? Then connect with other well-qualified women in business, through the HerBusiness or Business Chicks. Such websites mean you know nearly everyone you connect with will share your area of interest or background. There are similar sites centred around specific industries or geographies.
Find your niche
Even within specialised networking sites, there is often the possibility to form sub groups around specialisations. LinkedIn has hundreds of user created groups to bring together people with shared business interests, target audiences or professional backgrounds. Country or region specific networking sites may even have local chapters online, so groups can take their online connect into the real world when needed.
Stay up to date
Another big bonus that comes with such websites is that you can keep yourself plied with a steady stream of news and updates on your area of work. Blogs, articles, and webinars have become the hallmark of an active online community. You can now get as much information sitting at your desk in a day, as you would over 3 or 4 offline events.
Where the new meets the old
Most professional social networking sites also run events – both online and offline. So you could attend a webinar or listen to a podcast of course Then if you are so inclined, you could also attend a roundtable event or an offline conference being organised by people using the platform, or even by the website itself.
So can an online cold-call ever match up to the offline elevator pitch?
Are you a business person more approachable online than you are offline?
It seems clear that to reach out to a larger audience, to make oneself heard and known in the community, the online networking option is the most efficient. But may never fully substitute the face-to-face meeting.
And thats the Dish! Until next time, Belinda
I am Belinda Bow
I love all things marketing and I thrive on seeing a business become re-energised and flourish. I am excited about life and I adore my family.
Within these articles, you’ll find some helpful tips and some real guidance to help you make the most of your business, and gain a good understanding of all things marketing.