The Art of Networking Online

Building and maintaining a strong business network is critical to professional success. The key to networking online is the ability to gain access to people, the job leads, and the industry-specific information that you need. In return, it is crucial that you are connected and accessible to the people who want to speak with you.

Networking is especially important for a jobseeker in today’s challenging job market. In this “buyer’s market,” employers can choose from several qualified, interested, and available candidates. It is becoming more common for employers to hire based on referrals or recommendations. This is where the networking comes in!

So, where do you start? What are the basics to creating a beneficial online professional network?

Follow these tips to start building a better professional network:

1. Find out who you know
Find the network/s that works best for you based on your industry and interests. Then, get started by finding people you know. Include classmates, friends, past and current colleagues, family members, members of associations you may belong to, and past teachers.

2. Create your 24/7 business card
Your online profile should be considered your 24/7 business card. It’s vital to keep this complete and up to date regardless of your current job status. You never know what opportunities could come up, so it’s important to let people see what you’re up to! Your next big move could be right around the corner and you don’t even know it!

3. Explore who you don’t know
Find contacts to connect with that you don’t know, but have something in common with. Consider similarities in your industry, education, and more. You never know, your next gig might come from your connection to your freshman year roommate’s friend’s Dad that works at a PR firm your trying to get into!

Get in touch by joining groups of your interest, too. For instance, you can join Groups on the Professional Diversity Network for different companies looking to expand their workforce with diverse professionals. Then, get the inside scoop on their company culture, connect with current employees, and learn more about their benefits and positions.

4. Stay Relevant
The web is the first place your referrals, recruiters and hiring managers will look to get a peek at you before they phone you for an interview or a meeting. Very often they use the information online to make a determination if they will make that call. It’s always a good ideas to Google search your name – if you do not like the results (or if there aren’t any), act quickly to revise your social and professional profiles. Remember, your goal for using these online networks is accessibility, therefore the content you post and make public should best represent you and your professional interests!

5. Utilize your online network to find events
Use your network to find events, discussions, and different industry opportunities near you. When you attend events, you extend your online network even more! Just remember to stay focused on your goal and exchange contact information with the connections you make in person. If you’re looking for tips on how to network like a pro in person, click here!

6. Nurture your online relationships
This is easier then you think. Staying involved in relevant conversation, or liking someone’s new promotion or position can go a long way the next time you want to connect with someone. Help others often and thank those who help you!

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