Understandably for reasons we all know, so many of the fantastic conferences, awards and events for 2020 have been cancelled or postponed. These great points in the calendar hold so much more than their face value. They can help launch a new brand, offer insightful lectures or talks that you may not have been able to squeeze in normally and also they provide a fantastic opportunity to network.
All is not lost for your networking in 2020 though, as more and more we are embracing the online networking tools on offer to us. Even though extending your network was once traditionally a skill of shaking hands and swapping business cards, online networking is a new talent we are all adapting to quicker than ever. But if it all feels a little alien to you, here are our top tips on boosting your online network and presence:
Carve out time to look for some online communities that fit your niche. LinkedIn offers some fantastic groups or there are more classic forums such as VetTalk for example – all these communities offer high levels of interaction or resources. Some offer podcasts, training courses, even virtual roundtable events. Also by joining these communities you are more likely to be notified of special ‘digital’ events that may be happening that would interest you or be invited to attend or interact within in the network.
It’s time to be vocal and speak up! So many users of forums and medias like LinkedIn will silently scroll through, enjoying others content but not engaging due to a belief they have nothing important to say to the conversation. It couldn’t be further from the truth – by commenting, engaging, liking or even asking questions, you are interacting and building a conversation with a potential new connection. Even if it is a simple case of enjoying the article they shared, let them know! It opens doors to strike up conversations or connections you may not have even considered before and it starts the ball rolling of your name being one they recognise.
Bring your own value
Putting your own ‘career based’ or ‘business themed’ content out online can be daunting, but it is undeniably valuable for your networking. It builds your online career persona, it shows what interests or passions you have in your business field and allows others to see you as an accessible source of industry based knowledge. Majority of content online is shared, so if it feels tough to start out, why not start there. Share an article you found interesting, invite others thoughts on the news or study that took your interest and you’ll find online connections again you perhaps didn’t know were out there before. Also by posting, it validates our point above, you’ll begin to see how appreciative you are when someone likes, supports or engages on the content you share and it’ll drive you to be more reactive to others content too.
Don’t be pushy
If your goal from networking is to sell, that is absolutely fine. But don’t see acceptance in to the online communities as an opportunity to spam or force your sales upon the group, if it is a place to talk. Most forums and groups will have a ‘rules of practice’ document, letting you know the guidelines on selling posts or business opportunities, it is worth reading up on these early on, to make sure you understand when is acceptable to share your promotion rather than frustrate and alienate the network you’ve joined. The end result from these groups may not be somewhere you can signpost your sales pitch but perhaps names and connections, who you can instead approach individually later when you feel you have a suitable opportunity for them.
Whilst it would be fantastic to be personal connections with the world’s leading CEO’s, for the average person it is not likely to happen too frequently. Don’t just set your goals and targets on reaching those top level connections. Look to interact with people on your level too, or the ‘gate keepers’ to a company that interests you. These could be assistants, mid-level executives, sales teams etc. Not all value can be found only at the top and by interacting with those also still climbing their career ladders, you are more likely to find someone who will have the time and energy to help and open doors.
Noble Futures are due to be hosting several networking events throughout the course of the year and with the current climate we are now looking to bringing these out digitally also in the short future.
If you would be interested in joining one of our digital (or in person when the time allows) networking events, hosted by our Managing Director Tony Noble, please do register your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will register your details and send an invitation once we have dates confirmed.