Networking is more than just talking with strangers at an event; it is about creating connections with others who can provide invaluable feedback and support as well as creating new business opportunities. Establishing relationships with people you meet at networking events will take time and effort but it will be worth it when your network begins to grow and business starts coming in.
Networking is the key ingredient to creating your personal brand and promoting your business. It is not primarily about getting new business, instead the aim is to create relationships which you can use as a support and referral network for business and life in general.
However, networking doesn’t just have to happen face-to-face, you can use the same networking principals in the online world and build meaningful and lasting relationships. LinkedIn can be a great platform for facilitating these relationships and is a great tool for networking.
To be a stand out networker on LinkedIn first you will need to consider the following:
Have a completed profile
Before you take the step to network on LinkedIn it is vital your profile is complete and up to date. Having a complete profile is important when establishing yourself as an expert. According to LinkedIn, a completed profile will appear in search results 40 times more than the average LinkedIn profile. For the best chance of your profile being seen by your network, ensure that you have filled out as many fields as possible and that you are regularly viewing your profile.
Ensure that you have a professional headshot as your profile image, an excellent summary that profiles your background and your area of expertise, an engaging headline and a comprehensive list of your professional career history.
Moving the experience online
Networking with people online is an easy way to keep in touch, let each other know what projects you are working on, any upcoming job opportunities and share content that may be of interest to your network. But regardless of whether you are networking in person or online the same rules apply.
- Personalise the connection invitation: Send a personalised message when you request to connect with someone on LinkedIn. It shows you are interested in them. Think about what area or industry the person works in and look for similarities or a topic of interest that you can mention in your message.
- Make the first move: Don’t wait to hear from that person you had a great chat with at that networking event last week. Be bold and make the first move and reach out with a message on LinkedIn. It can even be something as simple as ‘Great to meet you’ or maybe ‘I saw this great article and thought it might be interesting to you’.
- Think about what you can do for your network: To successfully network on LinkedIn think about what you can do for those people you are connected with and what value you can provide to them by posting updates, sharing your insights, expertise and opinions.
LinkedIn is mainly a business social networking site and gives professionals an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and thought leadership. Posting high quality and valuable content is one of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge with a captive and engaged target audience.
Keep building your connections
You can never have too many contacts. Networking provides the opportunity for you to meet many like-minded people in various stages of their career and by simply by talking to these people can gain practical advice or inspiration to achieve your own goals.
After attending a networking event, it is a good idea to follow up with the people you made connections with and the easiest way to do this is on social media sites such as LinkedIn. Reaching out to people you networked with online is a great way to remind them who you are and the services you offer.
It is also a good idea to look at who your network is connected with on LinkedIn to see if there is anyone who you think would be beneficial to connect with yourself. From a business development perspective, it is a good idea to connect with potential clients. From a career perspective, connect with business people who have been in your position and can offer advice as this type of networking is more about developing your current career and broadening your horizons.
Networking is no longer limited to industry events and client functions; this is just the starting point. Social networking platforms such as LinkedIn can be used as a catalyst to create connections with people and establish relationships that can be of benefit to you professionally and personally.
Do you use LinkedIn to network? Do you find it effective for building relationships? Let us know in the comments below.
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