Networking in the Digital Age: Tips for Building Connections Online

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Now, more than ever, we need to network for our personal and professional growth. 

In 2024, Statista reported that out of 5.44 billion internet users, 5.07 billion used social media. This highlights how increasingly connected people have become through social networks, where they build their personal brands and expand their circles online.

At the same time, traditional networking methods have evolved. While attending in-person networking events is still worth your time and effort, you can have an easier time when you use QR codes or digital business cards. 

On the other hand, online networking allows you to reach a broader audience, engage with diverse groups, and cultivate relationships regardless of any geographical boundaries. As a result, those who network online have unprecedented opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and career advancement.

However, networking in the digital age can be challenging. You need to take a strategic approach to ensure that your interactions are meaningful and productive.

In this blog post, we will explore essential tips for building connections online. We hope they’ll help you choose the right platforms, build a following, and grow your network.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Platforms

The platforms you need to promote yourself on will depend on your reason for networking. Similar to how you would approach traditional in-person networking, your online audience matters.

For example, if you want to grow your professional network as a nurse, you should attend a healthcare conference for nurses. There, you’ll get a better idea of the latest trends for your job, where the best state to work as a nurse is, and more information related to your occupation.

In the same way, networking online will be based on your goals. 

Here’s how to choose the right platforms for your networking needs:

    • Figure out why you want to grow your network. Are you trying to find a new job? Do you want to find clients or build your brand?
    • Understand the audience and industry for each platform. The most popular ones are:
      • LinkedIn: This is ideal for professional networking, job searching, and connecting with industry leaders. 
      • X or Threads: These are platforms where you can microblog about your day and stay on top of trends or current events.
      • Facebook: While more casual, you can use Facebook to connect with a broader audience and participate in discussions.
      • Instagram: Perfect for visual-centric industries such as fashion, design, food, and travel. 
      • GitHub: Used by software developers to share their work and collaborate with other developers.
  • Check for accessibility. Find out if the platform has an app for you to use on the go.
  • Identify the features you want. Do you want a platform you can livestream on, or do you want to reach out to recruiters? Do you want to be able to share your work, or do you want to focus on microblog posts like status updates?

  • Tip #2: Create an Engaging Online Profile

    Your online presence acts as your digital business card. This can leave a lasting impression on potential connections. If you want to have an impactful profile, check that it has the following:

    • Profile Picture: Use a high-quality, professional photo that reflects your industry standards. 
    • Headline: Craft a brief, impactful headline that summarizes who you are and what you do. For increased visibility, use industry-relevant keywords. 
    • Summary: Begin your summary with a strong opening. You can share your professional journey, core values, and key accomplishments. 
    • Experience: Detail your work experience in reverse chronological order while highlighting responsibilities, achievements, and impact. 
    • Consistency: Use the same branding elements, such as color schemes and logos, across your profile to create a cohesive online presence.

    You can also highlight your career aspirations and the types of opportunities you are seeking. This will help potential connections understand if your goals align with theirs. 

    Based on the words you use on your profile, you can emphasize skills relevant to your career goals and seek endorsements from colleagues to build credibility. Just make sure to keep your profile updated with new experiences, skills, and achievements, and request recommendations. This will keep you credible and help showcase your professional relationships.

    Tip #3: Build and Expand Your Network

    A picture showing someone working on his computer while standing

    Use these strategies to help you connect with the right people:

    • Identify Key Contacts: Look for people who align with your professional goals, industry, or interests. You can use the search bar and adjust the filters to find connections that match your networking goals.
    • Customize Your Message: Avoid generic connection requests. Try personalizing your message by mentioning how you found the person, any mutual interests, or specific reasons why you wanted to reach out in the first place.
    • Be Brief and Professional: Keep your message short and to the point. Highlight any shared goals or how you can help them achieve their goals to establish a connection quickly.
    • Join Relevant Groups: Find and join groups or communities related to your industry or interests on social media platforms, forums, or specialized networking sites.
    • Engage Actively: Participate in discussions, share your insights, and ask questions. Providing valuable contributions will help you stand out and build credibility.
    • Stay in Touch: Regularly interact with your connections by commenting on their posts, sharing relevant content, or sending occasional messages to check in.

    Tip #4: Leverage Content to Build Your Presence

    Creating and sharing valuable content, such as articles, videos, webinars, and infographics, is a powerful way to build your online presence and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.

    Follow these tips for creating and curating valuable content:

    • Know Your Audience: Take your time to research your audience's demographics, preferences, and pain points. You can use tools like surveys, social media analytics, and direct feedback to gather insights. 
    • Be Consistent: Use a content calendar to plan ahead and ensure a steady flow of content. Since you want to keep your newfound network engaged, consistently posting relevant content can encourage more interactions with your profile.
    • Provide Value: Always aim to offer content that provides tangible benefits to your audience. For example, if your audience consists of small business owners, provide actionable advice on marketing strategies, financial management, or customer engagement.
    • Curate Quality Content: Besides creating your own content, you should also share articles, videos, or reports from industry leaders that can be helpful to your readers. You could even add your own commentary to provide context or extra insights. Customize your email signature with links to the new content to give all your email recipients easy access to the content. 

    Tip #5: Etiquette and Best Practices for Online Networking

    Some might say there’s no such thing as bad PR, but how you interact with others online can affect your networking.

    Just like how you want to make a good first impression so you can land a job in a networking event, there are best practices to follow to make a good first impression online.

    Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow:

  • Do: 
  • Be respectful, polite, and professional.
  • Be careful of what you share with others.
        • Respond to messages and comments as soon as you can.
        • Proofread what you say for any spelling and grammar errors.
  • Don’t: 
  • Spam or send unsolicited messages and requests.
  • Post negative or inappropriate content.
      • Use slang or overly casual language unless appropriate for the context.

    Grow Your Online Connections Today

    In conclusion, you need to be more thoughtful when building your connections online, especially if you want to meet your goals. Remember to choose the right platforms, create engaging profiles, customize your digital business card, curate your content, and follow best practices to grow your network. The key is to remain consistent, respectful, and on brand.

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