These days developing relationships online is as important to growing your business or reputation as networking in the real world. The Internet is a great way to expand your horizons and get to know new and influential contacts.
1. Don’t try to network in every Internet networking hub out there. Choose those where you get the biggest impact (i.e. those that your existing contacts already use, those that reflect your target audience, or those most applicable to your niche). The most popular are LinkedIn (Professional Network), Facebook (fastest growing), MySpace but there are many networks that are industry or job specific too so take time to check them out.
2. Leverage existing on-line networks to grow new ones. I recently used my MySpace profile to promote my Twitter account and add more contacts in that forum
3. Promote your activity in your chosen forums by including it in business cards, profiles and on your website.
4. Use widgets. Most of the social networks allow you to widgetize a link to your profile. Add this to your site, blog etc and include widgets for other networks in your networking profiles.
5. Always remember to be professional in these forums – ask the Granny question and make sure your content is appropriate to your professional standing.
6. When you meet new contacts in the real world find then on-line and add them to your networks.
7. Trawl the friends of your friends and contacts and add those you know or those gurus in your business.
8. Don’t spread yourself over to many networks or allow them to suck up your time. Schedule it into your day.
9. Join groups. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer groups. Join applicable ones and gain access to more people in your field.
10. Participate in the right forums.
11. Ask questions and use your status to attract news contacts.