Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
The final column in our networking series is about online networking. Many of the same reasons why and how you network in person apply to online, but there are some key differences.
What’s the same?
- You need to know why you are networking with each group, and make sure they’re a good fit for you and your networking needs
- Focus on getting known, liked and trusted before selling
- Give before expecting to receive – freely share your knowledge to establish your expertise.
What’s the difference?
- Messages can often be misconstrued, as people can read between the lines as you lose the main elements of face to face communication – expressions, body language and tone
- It’s easy to get side tracked and spend far too long online. If this is an issue, try setting a timer, limiting the times a day you go online, or try productivity apps that block websites.
Where should you network?
- Online groups especially on Facebook and LinkedIn, plus forums on other social media and industry association sites
- Groups that allow open advertising, often become post and run, so offer little engagement. Look for groups that restrict advertising but allow informational posts and are highly engaged
- Look for forums where your target market or referral partners hang out, rather than just businesses like you!
- When joining groups make note of the rules and obey them
- Set yourself up to receive notification of all posts in key groups
- Observe initially and get to know the roles in the group – the admins, the instigators, and the tone and expectations of the group
- When you have valid contributions to make, make them as comments or new posts
- Always check your post before entering for typos and whether it could offend
- Do NOT PM people without their permission. It is against the law and often group rules.
If you need help with your networking, or creating your online presence as an expert, please contact the centre and make an appointment with a business advisor.