Below are some helpful tips to guide you as an online business networker:
1. Research your market. Make sure you look closely at all your options and choose the ones that are most beneficial and relevant to yourself or your business. Ask yourself what your goals and needs are so that you don’t waste anyone’s time, especially your own. Join networks that are within your professional field so that you create a presence amongst potential business-partners or clients.
2. Apply aptitude. Be a resource; say useful, unique things that will be a credit to your professionalism and knowledge. If people remember that you had good points to make and that you made them articulately they will remember you and turn to you the next time they need help or advice.
3. Build your brand name. Be memorable for the right reasons.
4. Microtarget. Look for networks and online communities that are relevant to your market, if there aren’t any create your own. The goal is to create a presence and be present amongst people in your line of profession.
5. Be generous. Associating yourself with a not for profit organisation shows that you are not afraid to take responsibility for cause that are not your evident problem.
6. Show yourself. By opening your human voice in the form of blogging and joining networks you become approachable.
7. Create Relationships. Make contacts. Meet and affiliate yourself with professionals that you believe will be able to help you. Make sure you convince them that you can be an asset to them in return. You need to be a benefit to them, not an annoyance.
8. Build Relationships. Meeting possible affiliates and partners is not enough. You need to build trust between you and your new connections. Be dependable, if you say you will contact a certain person or company, do it. This will show that you are reliable and serious about the business relationship.
9. Know your strengths. Understand clearly what you do and why you do it differently to others. You need to be able to articulate how you will be an asset to others so that you come across as assertive and confident in your capabilities.
10. Follow Through. When people give you referrals don’t make them regret it. Respect that your actions are a reflection on whoever referred you and so act professionally and timeously.
Remember, professionalism when networking is important, but don’t feel too restricted by formalities. Be honest, work to the best of your ability and respect that you are not always right and can often learn things from unexpected sources.
Jade Ashton Scully writes for The Business Class http://www.thebusinessclass.co.za, an online profile platform for business professionals in South Africa.