Building relationships online is as important to growing your business or reputation as networking in the real world. Not only can you be more effective using social media but you can also get more done in less time.
The Internet is a great way to expand your career horizons and get to know new and influential contacts. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when using social media to network.
1. Dont 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) and Twitter but there are many networks that are industry or job specific (like Active Rain for real estate) too so take time to check them out.
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 widget 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 too 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. These should relate to your industry or market and to those of your prospects.
11. Ask and answer questions and use your status to attract new contacts.
12. Blogs can be a great way to build your network too. If you have a blog, always follow up with people who leave comments to connect with possible prospects and peers.
13. If you don’t have a blog then use blog comments as a forum to connect with influential bloggers in your industry, to build awareness of what you do and to add value for their visitors in turn.