Many aspects of our lives these days, from finding health-care information to getting traffic updates, have migrated to the virtual world of the Internet�”and the same thing is happening in networking. We’re not really surprised by this.
After all, the Internet is undeniably one of the fastest ways to exponentially increase your visibility to hundreds of thousands of people�”for whatever pur-pose. From a business perspective, going online takes your company instantly into the international arena. Suddenly, you and your business become accessible worldwide, 24/7/365.
If you harness the power of the Internet wisely, the result can be something like putting your business networking efforts on steroids. Now businesspeople are starting to use the same family of technology to find business clients, new partners, and jobs through virtual contacts they make online.
The earliest online networking sites were personal connection services, helping people reestablish old ties (long-lost friends and classmates, genealogy, etc.) or make new ones (dating and match�making). Today, online social networking forums such as Facebook, Google Plus, Ibosocial, Linkedin, and Pinterest are being used more and more for business purposes.
Instant messaging is one of the three most popular Internet activities in the United States�”after e-mail and search�” and is a key driver of user engagement. In other words, the Internet has created powerful new ways for human beings to contact each other.
Since these social networks are successful at bringing people together, why not consider using the same system to bring business professionals together�”to design and expand networks, form partnerships, increase visibility, and dramatically increase network diversity?
If you belong to a face-to-face networking group and then join an online networking group consider creating a regional or national club or subcommunity for the members of your in-person group. By combining the in-person networking with an online networking program, you enhance the relationships with people that you meet regularly, and you expand your networking efforts with others around the world.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough just to join and get your name on the membership list. You must focus on building relation�ships (turning contacts into connections) with other members of the community. This is a new concept to some, but others quickly realize that they can develop a relationship with people without meeting face-to-face.
Be active in the community. Post topics on threads that deal with your area of expertise. Respond to postings on other threads if the subject is at all relevant to your field of expertise.
The more you are “seen,” the larger the number of people with whom you interact on the site, the more you’re talked about, and the more visibility you will gain. One note of caution: Don’t join too many of these, or you’ll spread yourself too thin to build good relationships.