How to Network Online & Offline

March 8, 2012
By

 Getting noticed is essential for every business professional.  The old saying is true –
out of sight is definitely out of mind.  You need to both forge connections with
your professional network AND stay on the radar within your field.

Many people ask about how to network; and there’s no shortage of ways to get
networked, get involved and stay visible.  It used to be that we went to lots of
live events and professional meetings to stay connected.    Now, social media
has come along and changed the landscape.  There’s a vast network of people all
over the world at our fingertips.   Social media is a beautiful thing because it
has a viral effect – we can connect with the contacts of OUR contacts, and their
contacts, and so on.  It can also suck up a lot of our time and energy.  We see
so many people struggling to do it all – - live networking, social media
activities, following-up.  Choosing from among all of these options can be
daunting.  To be successful and get tangible results, a conscious strategy is a
must.

 

First, consider is your target market.  Who are they?  Where do they hang out — online
and offline?  By showing up in places where your ideal clients spend their time,
you’ll learn more about their needs, wants and hot buttons. In addition, you’ll
have the opportunity to connect with potential business allies that have the
same target market.  When it comes to networking and  how to network most
effectively, remember: your networking strategy will produce stronger and faster
results when you spend your time connecting in the right places.

 

Second, commit to a win/win.   Be clear about your objectives.  Set your intention to both meet the needs of your business  AND serve others.  Think about what you can contribute  –  how can you share your  expertise and provide help and support?  This is the best way to get visible in a group and earn respect and trust.  After  first giving of yourself and your knowledge, you’ll find that it will be a cinch to have your own business needs met.   

 

Third, go deep rather than wide.  Many business professionals end up feeling frustrated
with their networking strategy because they spread themselves too thin.  Set
aside some time to explore several groups offline and online that seem to be a
good fit for your business.  Visit and participate for a little while, and then
choose one to two online and one to two offline where you feel a resonance – a
real connection.  Drill down deep in those groups.   In online communities, you
can join and participate regularly in various groups that target your niche.
You can even become a group leader.  In offline communities, you may want to
volunteer for or lead a committee or serve on the board of directors.  It’s when
you go deep that people get to know, like and trust you.  This is the best way
to remain visible. 

 

Many professionals immerse themselves in one or the other strategy and struggle to
keep a balance between the two.  Just remember — both are important.  Yes, you
can sit in your PJ’s and network with people all over the world, as well as take
advantage of the viral effect of social media. However, with all of the glory and media hype about
social networking, there’s nothing that takes the place of a handshake, a smile
and a face to face meeting. 

 

Most of all, remember that networking is a process.  Be patient and consistent, and
you’ll see positive results that will have a genuine impact on your bottom
line.

 

 

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