Networking in the Digital Age

It simply can’t be overstated just how important networking is for business professionals. But, in an increasingly online world, the game has changed significantly from the days of handing out business cards at cocktail parties. Here we explore the concept of online business marketing.

Business Networking Generally

Business networking involves meeting and developing relationships with other business people, or people engaged in activities or professions that complement or relate to your own profession or areas of interest. One key here is to not be narrow in terms of those you develop relationships with. You may be surprised to find how valuable connections can be even when they come from seemingly unrelated professions.

Business networking is important for a number of reasons:

  • It can expand your knowledge base.
  • It can help you develop connections that may be helpful in terms of generating new business, finding job/career opportunities.
  • It can broaden your horizons.
  • It can spur creativity and innovation in your thinking. Innovation doesn’t come from a singular focus on one area of interest; it often comes from divergent viewpoints and ideas that don’t seem connected or relevant, but can spur creativity.

Networking in the Cyber World

The internet has made it vastly easier to find and connect with people than in the past. Even someone living in a remote, rural area that’s miles away from a major business center can network with business owners, consultants, executives and experts from around the world — from the comfort of their own home. The flip side to this is that things online are not always as they seem. Those who appear qualified and reputable could be puffed-up phonies, and the not-so-cyber-savvy with the terrible online presence could actually be great contacts.

Perhaps the biggest difference online is you don’t have the value of reading non-verbal cues or voice tone/inflection. That can lead to miscommunication, misperceptions, etc.

Networking Etiquette

Just because you’re networking online instead of in person, don’t forget the basic rules of etiquette when it comes to networking:

  • Don’t be overly self-promotional. That’s a huge turn-off and will result in people unfollowing or blocking you — or simply not paying attention to your posts/comments or inquiries.
  • Give as much as you get. We live in an information-rich society. Even those who sell information or expertise need to be willing to share their expertise freely. It’s quite counter-Colorful online icons - content marketing, visual content marketing, YouTubeintuitive, but it’s truly the case that the more you give — in terms of sharing information through blog posts, white papers, articles, presentations or simply responding to email inquiries — the more you get in terms of new clients, referrals, etc.

While it can be intimidating at first — especially for those of us who fall into the introvert category — business networking really is quite personally gratifying. We have so much to learn from others. The more you interact with people, either in person or online, the more you learn. Again, don’t narrow your focus too much here. It’s amazing how seemingly disparate pieces of information or insights from a broad variety of sources can prove to be useful.

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