An increasing amount of business networking is being carried out online and the same rules of engagement apply here as in the offline space.
According to Krishna De, an engagement and executive development mentor specialising in social-media strategies, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Ecademy and LinkedIn are great ways of maintaining and supporting networks in an age when people are moving around in their careers more, from role to role, and country to country.
LinkedIn, in particular, allows members to put details online quickly, customise their profile and write endorsements and testimonials for colleagues, if requested.
De has business partners and relationship and network contacts that have all been delivered or developed online. “Email, Skype, videoconferencing and SMS allow business and personal networks to expand across a geography,” she explains. “You can export all of these contact details to form your Christmas-card list, or keep it as your database and use it as a checklist to keep in touch. Some people feel much more comfortable with a face-to-face meeting, but it doesn’t have to be the only way.”
Five steps to building a network on LinkedIn
1. Register to join
The first step is to register at www.LinkedIn.com. While there is a paid-for option, you can start with a free registration that provides a host of features.
2. Create your profile
LinkedIn allows you to add information about your career history, the professional associations of which you are a member, details of your education and even upload a photograph. Take the time to create a comprehensive profile and ensure you include the key words that people might use when searching for someone with your experience.
3. Check your privacy settings
Make sure that you review your privacy settings on LinkedIn. However, if you want to make sure that you are found online in the search engines, take the time to set up a public profile, ie the profile people will see when they are searching for you online.
4. Build your network
Once you have established your profile you can then search and connect within LinkedIn for colleagues and contacts that you know. It’s recommended that you customise the invitation you send to people inviting them to be part of your network so they understand your reasons for connecting.
5. Nurture your network
Just as you would in face-to-face networking, it’s important to develop and nurture your network over time. You can write endorsements and testimonials for people you have worked with, join specific interest groups on LinkedIn and even ask questions and provide answers to areas within your field of expertise or interest.
Spend 15 to 30 minutes each week connecting and developing your network online – you’ll be surprised at the connections you will make.
Source: Krishna De at www.bizgrowthnews.com