Are you keen to make meaningful online connections but not sure where to start? A good starting point is to build your profile on social media platforms and start connecting. Digital networking is an important strategy for businesses and working professionals seeking advice or to advance their career.
In a face-to-face meeting, we are able to communicate and interpret one another’s non-verbal cues such as body language and tone of voice which can help build trust in a relationship. However, now in the digital age where virtual chat and meetings are common, parts of the relationship-building process are done online before you meet someone. This is especially practical if it is your goal to connect with people outside of your comfort zone, such as thought leaders who are based in another country or with people from another industry.
Online social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit give you the opportunity to connect with more people, build your knowledge base and establish your reputation as a thought leader. Having a strong digital personal presence and online brand can help create business opportunities and more job opportunities for professionals and job seekers.
Here is a handy guide to creating relationships through the digital network while mastering the art of online networking.
3 tips to effective networking in the digital age
1. build the right social network
With the magnitude of social networks found online these days, you need to take some time to figure out where your professional network congregates online. But once you find out where they gather to share ideas and opinions, make sure to invest time to build your desired social network to make the most out of it. It’s critical to surround yourself with your peers and people you admire to expand your perspectives and understand how the latest industry trends will impact your work.
LinkedIn, Clubhouse, Twitter and product forums (e.g. Google Ad forums) present new online networking opportunities for you to follow people and communities that are aligned with your interests or even function. Take the time to seek out thought leaders in your chosen field. Explore their vast network and find out who they follow, read the articles they share, join the same forums, build relationships, attend virtual networking events and connect with more like-minded individuals in the conversations that follow.
One of the best parts about networking online is bypassing the small talk and being very targeted in the thoughts you share, the questions you pose and the information you seek.
here are some simple rules when connecting with your peers on online platforms:
- Ask direct and relevant questions
- Do research to back yourself up
- Be respectful of differing viewpoints
With every connection you make, ask yourself what you want to achieve from the connection with that individual or group and how you can contribute. Are you looking for a job specifically? Seeking a business partner? Or are you simply hoping to expand your knowledge base?
2. brand yourself online
Once you’ve made some initial connections, it’s time to establish those relationships and build your personal brand on various social media platforms. You can do that by sharing useful articles, commenting on those posted by others and regularly taking part in online conversations.
ensure the content you write and share is relevant.
Starting your own blog is a good way to establish your reputation too. With a regular posting schedule of relevant content with useful information – a blog allows you to showcase your personal brand, pose your questions and invite others to comment.
You should also keep an open mind when posting articles, as not everyone shares the same opinions as you. Be mindful that you may receive negative comments that dismiss your opinions or the information you share in your blog. Understand that you have a choice on whether you want to engage with the people who comment on your blog. While you do not need to respond to all comments, you can choose how you respond to differing opinions that pique your interests to understand their perspectives. Stay professional and positive in your responses to further build your personal brand as someone who is open-minded and reasonable.
If online engagement is done right, you’ll be able to gain mutual respect with your peers, grow your network and develop a level of trust with your online connections.
3. take it to the real world
When the time is right, moving online relationships offline is your next step.
A digital relationship filled with targeted questions and online profiles will place you in a good position to decide who to meet face-to-face and why. You would have to reflect on what are the purposes for meeting your networks face-to-face. Are you looking for new job opportunities? Or a business partner? Or even simply hoping to expand your knowledge base?
While connecting with them online, you’ve had a chance to get to know them, gain their insights and learn what their position might be on particular topics. Before you meet them in person, you should be able to know where you could add value and quickly establish a deeper connection. Little details like punctuality, dressing respectfully and being captivative during the meeting will increase your chances of forging a good relationship in the real world.
maintaining your connections is a 2-way street
Networking is difficult, but maintaining these relations on digital communications can be tougher. Once you’ve established that connection, you can start to dive deeper. Depending on the sort of connections you make online and offline, the definition of these relationships may differ. You may realise the value of online networking as some of the connections you’ve made online may become your mentors and others may become lifelong friends.
Regardless of the type of connection, it takes two to nurture a relationship. Ensuring an ongoing digital communication can help strengthen professional and personal relationships, encourage offline interactions and bring people with shared interests together.
In exchange for providing you with whatever inputs or opinions they might have, you need to offer them similar or even better opportunities to maintain these connections. Ask yourself, what can you offer if you are in the other party’s shoes and how can you add value to their professional or personal growth? Maybe you heard that he/she is seeking a career change in a particular industry and coincidentally, you might have some contacts to share.
As with any other new relationship, being genuine and sincere can help to garner some respect from the other party and further your connection with them. For example, you can show your care to the other party that they are important to you. This could include not contacting them only when you are in need of their help, but keeping them in your orbit all the time and meeting up from time to time to catch up with one another.
There are no hard and fast rules in maintaining connections and relationships, experiment for yourself on what works and soon you will be a digital networking whizz!
connect with randstad recruiters
If your objective for networking online is to find a new job, then you should connect with Randstad. Our recruiters are highly specialised in the industries and fields they work in, and can offer valuable insights about the job market and hiring trends that will increase your chances of securing a new job in no time! Check out our recruitment specialisations or explore your career options and apply for a job.