How do you get on when it comes to networking online? Building your brand, growing your visibility and credibility and doing business?
It was whilst I was hosting one of my Thrive Collective gatherings when one of the lovely members asked me for some top tips to maximising the opportunities we as business owners have online.
She didn’t want to come across as a Spammy Pammy, but with limited time in her business to get out and about to grow her business, she wanted to know how she could use the various groups, communities and options she had available to grow her business.
So put the kettle on and have a read how you to can start to improve the effectiveness of your online networking.
1. Treat online opportunities just as you would do offline.
In real life, you wouldn’t walk up to someone, hand them a flyer and start selling at them. So don’t do it online. I’m amazed how many women in business still do this – they join a group and start selling. Take that time to build relationships, introduce yourself, be helpful, be clear about what you do and most of all, add value.
Success in online networking comes from building a relationship before assuming the right to ask for anything extra. I see and speak to many women who do this brilliantly – they put the effort in and earn the right to be recommended and referred.
And when you go for the ask … be clear on what you do and how you can help. Avoid going in with the ‘buy from me now’ call to action, but ask for the smallest of actions that you can ask for.
For example, rather than saying ‘come and work with me’ I might say ‘what are you biggest challenges in marketing?’
2. Join the right online community
Today there are so many groups and so many online communities that you can join and become involved in.
And a word of caution, there are many free groups where people hang out just for the free stuff. Unless your business is built on giving free stuff, be selective on where you hang out. I’ve personally left so many groups because of this very reason. Just because a group is full of ‘female business owners’ doesn’t mean to say there’s a good fit for where I should invest my time.
3. Introduce yourself in a smart way
Don’t join a group and run. In my own group, Thrive Collective: Free Facebook Community, I ask members to introduce themselves. At least 90% of members don’t bother. What a huge missed opportunity! Those members who jump in, introduce themselves and ask a question…guess what? They get interaction, questions and connections. This is how to network online.
If you’ve joined and quickly realise it isn’t for you, don’t feel obliged to stick around. No point clogging up your newsfeed with irrelevant groups and communities.
The same goes for offline networking events. You wouldn’t keep going back to the same groups that didn’t help you, so walk away from similar online groups. I know that’s an obvious one, but sometimes we need that reminder!
4. Recommend the products and services of other businesses.
It’s not all about you. Shocking I know! It’s easy to forget the concept of you’ve ‘got to give in exchange for a return’. By being that helpful member and business owner by promoting and sharing other people’s business you are much more likely to attract more attention and referrals. And over time, those who appreciate your support will give you support. There’s a very strong chance they’ll expose your business and brand to their audience. Win / win.
And don’t forget about other collaborations. Linking your businesses is a very important way to build traffic to your website, but it is also a way to build relationships. By offering to link between your business and another, you are of course endorsing each other and that helps to strengthen your relationship.
5. Write comments, give your opinion and be vocal.
And not just on Facebook groups which are the obvious communities. Factor in time to comment on other people’s blog posts and articles. Where you can have conversations and where it showcases what kind of a person and business owner you are based on your comments and feedback.
6. Develop a strategy on each of the social media options.
Just like in all other aspects of marketing, have a strategy. Avoid that spray and pray approach. Be precious with your time you’re investing. It pretty much goes back to point number 2, make sure you’re hanging out in the right places. Just like your marketing strategy, be clear on who you are, what you offer and who you want to attract in your business.
7. Keep it short.
When you’re networking in person, conversation is king. The opposite is true when it comes to the online world.
I know it’s easy to get carried away, feel like we need to write war and peace but by keeping it short and sweet is going to get you results. Short words and short sentences. Don’t be tempted to use 5 words when 1 or 2 would do. Make your approach easy to read and easy to understand.
Has that helped? I’m spending a lot of time helping women with their content marketing. How they establish themselves as an expert, be that knowledgeable and helpful business owner and become known as a go to person in their area of business.
Online networking is just another form of this. Just because you can sell, doesn’t mean you should with these opportunities. I promise you, you’ll get much better results if you continue to build that famous ‘know, like & trust’ factor.
If you’re looking for additional help to become more planned and organised in your marketing, be sure to download my free marketing planner here.
So finally, what are you top tips in networking online? Is there something I’ve missed? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll update this blog and add in your details or come and hang out in the Thrive Collective: Free Facebook Community.
I’m Sam Dixon, founder of Thrive With Sam Dixon, a Marketing Consultant to ambitious businesswomen who want to launch, grow and scale their business with flexible marketing support.
For a free 30 minute discovery call get in touch by email email@example.com or come join Thrive Collective, my monthly membership community. JOIN HERE.