Building up a strong professional network can do a lot to support your career. If you are thinking about your next role, your network is a good way to learn about new opportunities and can give you an edge when applying.
But it’s not just for finding work — by connecting with a range of people you’ll get a better understanding of your industry. You’ll pick up new skills and insights and establish long-term relationships that can help you succeed.
If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a lot of online networking opportunities that you can do to make new connections and meet new people. Here are some tips for making the most of online networking.
To build up a successful network online, you need to work on it consistently throughout your career — not just when you’re writing a resume and job hunting.
It takes time to build up strong connections that will provide support and value to you and your career. If you suddenly start trying to reach out to people and connect with them when you’re looking for work, you’re not going to be making the best connections.
Most people don’t want to connect with someone that’s only interested in themselves and what they’re looking for at that time. You should prioritize reaching out and connecting with people on a regular basis, and take the time to build up a proper relationship with them so they are willing and able to help you out when you need it.
Social media is one of the best tools for starting to network online. It gives you a way to reach out and connect with a wide range of people without having to go up to them in person and start a conversation out of the blue. Many industries will have groups or organizations that are specifically for women working in these areas, so this is a good place to start networking.
These are the key social media platforms that will help you make the most of online networking:
Twitter: Use Twitter to follow experts and industry leaders, other people that you’re interested in, and relevant hashtags. You’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest industry conversations and news and join in when you’ve got something to say.
Facebook: Lots of industries will have Facebook groups for different areas and niches. People will often post in them sharing their ideas or asking for help and opinions, so it’s a great place to start participating and establishing a connection with people. If you can’t find any groups, ask your colleagues or existing connections if they’re in any relevant groups that are worth joining.
Tip: If you are working in the divorce professional field, check out our Facebook Group, Worthy Women and Divorce, where you can find others to connect and network with.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is designed as a professional networking platform, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your profile and start using it more. Follow industry leaders and relevant publications, and connect with people that you work with or you know. Interact and comment with other people’s posts and share your own updates, whether it’s a work achievement or insights on the latest industry update.
Knowing your industry inside out, especially your specific role or niche, and keeping up to date with the latest trends and news is going to help you make the most of online networking. By setting yourself up as an expert in your particular area, people are going to want you in their network so that they can learn from you.
Spend some time identifying what you already know, your strengths, and your interests. And then brush up your knowledge in these areas. Follow other experts, keep an eye on relevant publications, read books, and follow the latest news on these topics. Use a tool like Feedly to bring together all the news and articles relevant to your industry in one place.
As well as learning more about your industry and your work, you also need to focus on yourself. If you’re feeling confident and engaged then you’re more likely to be able to make the most of online networking and build up stronger connections. Set out your own personal goals and career goals so that you have something to focus on and work towards.
If you need some motivation and support, there are plenty of places online to find it. My own site,Orion’s Method, specializes in life and career coaching, offering plenty of advice on how to be more confident and successful at work and as an individual.
Or you could try something like meditation to help you manage your thoughts and focus on your goals — sites likeMeditation Oasis offer a range of guided meditations for beginners.
Another key aspect of making the most of online networking is to join in conversations that are happening and provide value to others. You want to share your knowledge with others in ways that are useful to them.
Once you’ve found relevant groups online, start responding to people’s posts and offering advice, feedback, or your own insights. Comment on articles that people in your existing network and industry leaders are sharing. Reshare and talk about interesting articles or pieces of research that you’ve discovered.
You want to offer up ideas and share your knowledge so that you can build up your reputation in your industry. It’ll help you build your relationships with existing connections and other people will start to notice you and what you’re doing.
Online networking events are another great way to connect with other people in your industry. It might seem a bit daunting at first, but with a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to start building your network even further.
To make the most of these events, ensure you fill out all the fields in the attendee profile. Put together a brief introduction for yourself so that you can outline who you are and what you do when you get the opportunity.
Share that you’re attending the event on social media before and after, and interact with any posts from the event or follow the relevant hashtag. If there’s a specific speaker at the event that you’re interested in then tag them in your post after the event and share your thoughts or insights related to what they said.
Set yourself a target to contribute one or two ideas or comments in each event, when you have some expertise to share. If speaking out to the whole event seems too intimidating at first, you can use the private messaging feature to ask other attendees their opinions or insights on the speaker or presentation.
Online networking can seem intimidating at first, but by working on yourself and your knowledge and then joining in with relevant conversations you’ll be able to start building up an effective network of professional connections.
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