We’ve all heard how important networking is when it comes to finding a job and advancing in your career. And with today’s technology, connecting with professional contacts can be as easy as clicking a button. But even if you’re interacting online instead of face-to-face, that doesn’t make networking any less intimidating.
Wondering how you can become more confident and maximize your efforts when online networking? These five tips will help get you on track:
1. Choose the right channel(s)
Most people gravitate toward LinkedIn for online networking. It’s a natural choice if you’re looking to connect with former colleagues, post industry updates and search for jobs. You can also use social media like Instagram and Snapchat, but keep in mind that not everyone’s comfortable connecting with coworkers on those apps, according to a survey from our company. Contributing to professional online communities or forums and joining virtual conferences when you can’t make it out to in-person events may also be options for building your digital presence and business relationships.
2. Make a good impression
Your LinkedIn profile and photo say a lot about you. Make sure they’re professional and up to date. Including relevant details about education, work history and interests may lead to conversations about commonalities, which can be networking gold. If you’re connected to colleagues on other social networking channels, be mindful of the images and posts you’re sharing. That may mean removing or adding privacy settings to that “spring break 2010” photo album.
3. Be choosy with connections
Online networking success isn’t about having a larger number of connections than anyone else. Think carefully before sending and accepting requests. Asking someone you don’t know to connect can raise eyebrows – and even come off as creepy. You may want to stick with those you’ve worked with or met. Ask for an introduction if there’s someone in your extended network you’d like to get in touch with.
4. Don’t make it all about you
Sure, your connections are there to provide advice or job leads if you need them, but you want to be seen as a resource to others. Share interesting news items, comment on posts and ask how you can help. Promptly respond to any requests that come through your network. When you do ask for help, be clear about what you need, don’t be pushy and show appreciation for any assistance.
5. Take it offline
Whenever you’re able, meet with connections in the real world to strengthen relationships. It might be as simple as chatting over coffee or taking a lunch break together during an event you’re both attending.
Whether online or in-person, reaching out to others to make business connections is never easy. By carefully choosing who you’ll contact and conducting all conversations with tact and respect for the other person, though, you’ll become much more comfortable with your networking efforts.