Networking is a divisive topic. You either love it or you absolutely detest it.
While some people will naturally strike up a conversation with a stranger, others will struggle to pluck up the courage to say hello.
If you fall into the second group it’s important to remember that at its core networking is simply building relationships. It doesn’t have to be sleazy or calculated. It can simply be about two people finding a shared interest.
In today’s technology-driven world a lot of our networking is carried out online rather than face-to-face. Here are some tips for online networking.
Join a community
A great way to start meeting like-minded individuals is to join online communities. You can find dedicated sites or look on social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Many of these communities offer things like forums, podcasts or even offline events. Once you’ve been accepted become a valuable member. Do not simply read what’s going on. Get involved with the discussion.
Comment, like and interact
In order to network effectively, you need to be active online. Take the time to comment on other people’s blog posts, articles and in forums wherever possible. This will help to get your name out there but it will also show people your personality based on your involvement.
Give more than you receive
One sure fire way to ruin a potential connection is to reach out only when you need something. Remember that networking is a two-way street. You should always be looking for ways to help others instead of trying to ask for favours. When you network frantically or desperately, you’re also more than likely to establish lower quality connections.
If you want to build up your contacts and your personal brand then you need to be consistent. Know your values and stick to them. Don’t disappear when someone asks you for help when you are usually online 24/7. Don’t spend all your time talking about AI if that doesn’t interest you in the slightest. Be authentic.
It’s very easy for people to forget their basic manners once they get behind a keyboard. Remember that meeting someone online in like meeting someone in person. You should ask insightful questions, try to make them feel at ease and above all never come across as rude or pushy.