Networking is still intimidating for many of us. No one wants to go up to a complete stranger, plaster a fake smile on their face and make introductions. It’s awkward, it’s forced and by the end of it, we haven’t really ‘networked’. Yeah, we might have collected a number of business cards, names and numbers, but we haven’t formed any real relationships with other professionals. That part takes time. And besides, networking events can be painful and a hassle (yet, we still go, right?) But wouldn’t it be easier if the people we wanted to touch base with and connect with came to us instead? And not at some poorly thrown together event where we all have to wear sticker name tags?
Until we’ve gotten into the rhythm of formulating a strategy for networking, many of us don’t really know who we should network with. We’ll go up to someone, do our little spiel, let them do theirs and walk away hoping we did good enough. Ugh! How often have we done that?! Instead, start small, start simple, start social. As in, using social media. It’s easier, takes the pressure off and gives us the advantage of doing a little research on the person and their company before we ever have to open our mouths. One of the best places to practice social networking is on LinkedIn. Because it’s simple.
- Follow a person’s company page. See what kind of updates they have, any links they share. Google their website online. Get interested in their business before you connect. If they don’t have one, suggest, they start one.
- If this person is consider a thought leader, follow their postings. Comment on their postings. Like and share their postings. Make it a point to notice them and others they’re interacting with. By doing so, someone is surely noticing you.
- Share your company blog. Don’t have a company blog? tsk, tsk! You already know you should have one. And when you’ve loaded some posts onto it. Share it as an update on your status. Share it to groups you belong to on LinkedIn.
- Don’t belong to any groups? JOIN! But don’t be one of those people who belong to like 37 groups!!! How can they actively participate in all those group discussions, network effectively and have time left over to work in and on their business? Not likely. Pick… 4-5 groups. Groups that matter to your business and industry. No need for hyper-drive overkill here.
- Take advantage of those offerings to connect with someone (LinkedIn gives you up to five people to connect with on the basic account outside your network).
- Whenever you add someone new your network, immediately send them a message. It’s doesn’t have to be a bio about yourself or a company overview. Just a simple thank you for adding you and that you look forward to sharing ideas and connecting with them in the near future. Appreciate everyone’s time and gesture.
Get engaged. That is what networking comes down to, especially when it’s handled virtually. No secret about how to do it, just get engaged. Show others you’re someone worth knowing and they will come seek you out. But, of course, you have to put yourself and your business out there. In order for others to network with you, you gotta leave them some bread crumbs.
- Seven Valuable Tips for Networking (engineermordics.wordpress.com)
- LinkedIn: Makes Business Sense (business2community.com)
- 5 Creative Ways To Use LinkedIn (shakthiwrites.wordpress.com)
- LinkedIn Tips: 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Network (news.terra.com)