Networking your network

How to network the modern way

Everyone understands the value of networking, but we’re not all naturals when it comes to attending events and navigating a room full of strangers. Thankfully, with the advent of social networks and mobile communication devices – like smartphones, tablets and connected laptops – you can use modern tools to build your business network.

Social media platforms, email, instant messaging, blogs, apps and forums all provide ways to instantly connect. Here are some tips on how to make the most of online tools to identify those all-important connections.

Social media

LinkedIn. It’s a hugely popular platform, but most of us only use it when looking for a new job. However, LinkedIn offers so much more. As a social media platform dedicated to business, its usefulness as a tool to research and identify key industry players and decision-makers cannot be overstated.

Need a contact within a company? Follow the trail to see if you know someone who knows someone. Need a competitive review? Scope out which companies operate in your area.

Want to attract more leads? Build your network and start putting your skills to good use – publishing your own articles or promoting others are simple ways to build your reputation and generate interest in your business. But make sure you're consistent. Regular updates (at least one per week) are key to staying front of mind.

Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only social network for business. AngelList is ideal for startups and entrepreneurs, whereas InterNations is a place for expats to congregate. Other networking sites are invite-only, but don’t be put off – this can actually prove advantageous as it fosters more trust between contacts than on larger sites.

All the world’s a stage

Just like in the real world, online conferences and web-based seminars can be enlightening – not to mention how useful they can be in sparking conversations with like-minded individuals. You can connect directly with the speakers or insightful individuals who caught your attention. You might even consider hosting your own webinar, or participating in one as a host or expert guest.

Conversation is integral to networking, whether in person or online. There are countless ways and means of connecting in today’s digital landscape, but remember that the same rules apply both offline and online – be pleasant, be approachable, be helpful and see how you can aid the other person initially. Build a solid reputation first and the sea of resources will yield its bounty.