More and more people are choosing to network online rather than face to face – especially following the pandemic.
Online networking is an easier way to make meaningful connections, whether it be personal, professional, or to further your career.
Networking can help your business grow, seek new employees, accumulate new clients, improve your reputation, and build strong business relationships.
There are countless online networking platforms that you can utilise – but if you’re not familiar with the world of online networking, it can feel overwhelming.
Keep reading for our top 10 tips for successful online networking.
1- Join a Mastermind Group
One of the best methods of networking is joining and attending mastermind groups – and the best part is that you can join a mastermind group from the comfort of your own home.
You can find online mastermind groups for local areas or mastermind groups that include people from all over the world.
Regardless of your industry, you’re sure to meet like-minded individuals that you can learn from and share knowledge with – after all, the key reason for joining a mastermind is to better yourself.
Most online mastermind groups will take place on video-chat platforms such as Zoom or Skype, but you can find some that just use a form of instant chat.
Although there are free mastermind group options out there, the majority of mastermind groups require payment. Some will ask you to pay for a yearly membership, and others will ask you to pay per week.
Some will also offer a free session which will give you the chance to meet the regulars and decide whether the group is for you.
2- Utilise LinkedIn
One of the best (if not THE best) online networking tools in 2021 is LinkedIn. It’s an online platform in which you can grow your network, make conversation, and read other peoples content and share your own.
There are around 800 million members from over 200 countries that you can connect with – so if you’re starting your online networking journey, LinkedIn is the best place to start.
One of the most important things to consider when using LinkedIn is having a complete and accurate profile – see tip number 9 for information on how you should set up your online profile.
3- Start Conversations
One of the most common mistakes people make when networking online is growing their connections but not having an online presence.
Talking to people is key to expanding your network and making meaningful business connections. Having hundreds of connections is pointless if you aren’t going to communicate with them, reply to their posts, or engage with their content.
Whether you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, or you prefer to text, be sure to start conversations with your new connections
4- Reply to People
Simply starting conversations isn’t enough – if you start a conversation, try to keep the conversation going and actually take the time to reply to people when they communicate with you.
Too many people make the mistake of letting the conversation die down or simply forgetting to reply to people.
Make sure that you follow up when people engage with your content – even if it’s a simple ‘like’ react. Take some time to think of useful or meaningful responses to comments on your posts or tweets, and try to develop further conversation.
5- Get Involved In Online Forums
If you want to grow industry connections, one of the best things you can do is make your presence known on online forums.
Browse through sites like Quora whenever you get the chance – and if you see a question or topic related to your industry, be sure to share your knowledge and help others out on the thread.
This will not only grow your reputation and credibility but attract like-minded people to your brand.
6- Don’t Shy Away From Video Chat
If you want to become a networking pro in 2021, you need to be comfortable using video chat platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
If you’re looking for new jobs, clients, or business opportunities, then chances are, you’ll get asked to attend an online video meeting at some point.
Don’t shy away from these opportunities just because you’re not familiar with video chat. Instead, learn to navigate your way around the popular video platforms so you can just hop on a quick video call and further your networking skills.
7- Get Involved With New Networking Platforms
The main networking players such as LinkedIn and Facebook are great – but don’t get too comfortable with them.
If you want networking to work as well as it can, make sure that you’re trying out new networking platforms. There are countless platforms that offer quality online events to expand and strengthen your network.
The likes of Clubhouse and Meetup are great for networking and making new professional connections. You’re missing out if you only use LinkedIn – so venture out and try out other platforms to expand your network.
You can find platforms suitable for your industry, or platforms inclusive for all industries. There are platforms for job-seekers, for potential clients, or simply to find new business friends.
8- Don’t Rush It
Although there are some benefits to simply adding every profile that you come across, it’s generally best to take things slow and select your connections carefully.
After all, if you’re rushing into connecting with every profile you see, you won’t have time to make conversation and engage with your existing connections.
Don’t rush into relationships with your connections – instead, ease into it and grow trust with time, and you’re sure to reap the benefits.
9- Set Up Your Profiles Well
Your profile is likely the first thing that existing and potential connections will see, so ensure that there are no checking errors or mistakes in your profile.
Another thing to consider is what you share with your followers. Many people make the mistake of oversharing – so before posting anything to your profile, make sure that you don’t include anything you wouldn’t want your boss or clients to see.
Choose a picture that shows your face – and it’s generally recommended to avoid pictures taken on a night out or when you were intoxicated.
10 – Don’t Be Too Pushy
It’s far too easy to come across as pushy online, as it’s hard to read tone through online messages.
If somebody isn’t replying to you, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a follow-up message. However, don’t go overboard and never send somebody multiple messages in one day if they’re not replying.
Respect people’s privacy, as not everybody is glued to their screen, and not everybody checks their online networking sites on a daily basis.
Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.