We’ve all heard how important networking is when it comes to finding a job and advancing your career.

And with social distancing and remote working being the new norm, professionals today need to turn to online networking.

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 maximise your efforts when online networking? These four 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 co-workers on those apps.

Contributing to professional online communities or forums and joining virtual conferences 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. Removing unprofessional images or posts, and adding privacy settings to your social platforms are key to creating a good impression when online networking.

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.

In-person or online networking, same core principles

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 you’ll become much more comfortable with your networking efforts.