The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking

July 18, 2022 8 min read 0 Comments

networking for business

Online networking, like all forms of networking, is about making connections that create value. The quantity of connections you can make by networking online is incredible. But online networking comes with its own set of obstacles. Namely, how to cultivate real relationships - ones that create value, and not just pixels on a computer screen.

Here are some of the most important dos and don’ts of online networking.

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The "Dos" of Online Networking

- Seek out online communities that align with your interests and values. Your online networking efforts will be much more successful if you focus on niche-specific communities, otherwise you'll get lost in an ocean or irrelevant contacts and content.

- Connect with people you know in real life. Start by social media to leverage your existing offline relationships by seeking out online connections with people you already know and trust. This will help increase the likelihood that these online relationships are meaningful and valuable.

- Use the right social media platforms. LinkedIn, of course, is the most well-know professional social network. But there are others, and even Slack is emerging as a major online network.

- Use the right tools: Zoom, Slack, Popl, and other networking tools are critical to online networking success.

- Make an effort to connect with new contacts. Building new professional and social networks through online networking is all about leaving your comfort zone. as in real-life networking, it's important to continuously meet new people. But remember when you're thinking about how to network online, you have the advantage of being able to connect with anyone in the world, no matter their location. So take advantage of this by reaching out to new contacts, even if you don't yet know them well.

- Share your own insights and expertise when it’s relevant. You don't have to needlessly enter conversations or exaggerate your abilities, but when you see the opportunity to contribute to a conversation, make sure you speak up. You never know what can come out of giving a free bit of advice or sharing information with someone. Also, if you are an influencer or micro-influencer in some particular field, this can be incredibly valuable to business networking. Make sure that you put your accomplishments front-and-center on your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and other and other social media. Also, if you have built any thought leader content, that is good include in your follow ups to add another layer of social proof. Remember, online networking is all about social proof because it’s missing that layer of legitimacy that comes with in-person networking.

- Make an effort to connect with people offline as well - meeting for coffee, lunch, etc. If you meet online, the next step in the relationship is often to meet up in-person, just as if you meet in-person, the next move is to make sure you are connected online. This is where networking tools like Popl's digital business card is especially useful.

- Follow up after making online connections: Even just a simple LinkedIn message or a more formal email don't be coy about following up. Business relationships are all about consistency and reliability. And if you can show people in real time that you care, you’re already ahead of the curve.

- Get involved in online discussion forums: Online discussion forums are a great way to get involved in online networking. Find forums that are relevant to your industry or interests and start participating in the conversations. Online forums replicate what happens during traditional networking events - as in, people talk mostly about specific topics related to their field or industry. This is true whether you are a small business, an entrepreneur.

- Join LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn groups are another great way to network online. There are groups for almost every industry and interest, so you’re sure to find ones that are a good fit for you. Once you join a group, start participating in the discussions and connecting with other members. The right LinkedIn groups are also very popular among potential employers.

- Attend online events: Online events are a great way to meet other professionals and grow your network. There are many online events that you can attend, such as webinars, online conferences, and virtual networking events.

- Connect on social media: Social media is a great platform for online networking. Follow companies and organizations that are relevant to your industry or interests. Engage with their content and start connecting with other people who follow them. 

The "Don'ts" of Online Networking

professional networking dos and don'ts

- Don’t be afraid of online networking - it can be a great complement to in-person networking.

- Don't treat online networking as a numbers game. Read more about this in our post about how to network) It's not about how many online connections you have, it's about quality over quantity.

- Don't forget the offline world. Online networking should be used to supplement your in-person networking efforts, not replace them.

- Don't be spammy. No one likes being spammed with irrelevant content or requests, so don't do it to others. If you wouldn't want to receive it, don't send it.

- Don’t forget to follow up after making online connections - a simple LinkedIn message or email can go a long way. This is especially important if you’re using a networking platform to land a new job. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see that you’re eager for the position, and often times this can be as simple as sending a quick follow up.

- Don’t treat online networking as a numbers game - focus on quality over quantity.

- Don’t forget the basics of good networking etiquette.

- Don’t be a “troll” - adding nothing of value to the conversation or trying to start arguments for the sake of it.

- Don’t be afraid to reach out first - online networking is about building relationships, and relationships require communication.

- Don’t neglect your online network - tapping into people you know from other parts of your life in a professional capacity is a step many people hesitate to take. Yet, your existing network or friends and acquaintances is often the most effective place to start networking - whether online or in-person.

- When connecting with someone online, make sure to personalize your message.

- Actively participate in online discussions - offer valuable insights and perspectives.

- Follow up with people you’ve connected with online, offline. Sending a LinkedIn message is great but picking up the phone or meeting in person is even better.

The Advantages of Networking

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There are many advantages to online networking including :

- Access to a global network of contacts: You’re no longer limited by your geographical location when it comes to networking. With online networking, you can connect with anyone in the world, no matter where they are located.

- Increased opportunities for networking: The increased accessibility of online networking means that there are more opportunities to network than ever before. Whether it’s through online discussion forums, LinkedIn groups, or Twitter chats, there are countless ways to get involved in online networking.

- The ability to connect with like-minded individuals: Online networking allows you to connect with people who share your interests and goals. This makes it easier to build meaningful relationships because you already have things in common.

- Greater flexibility: Online networking is flexible and convenient. You can network anytime, anywhere, and from the comfort of your own home.

- The ability to build deeper relationships: Online networking gives you the chance to get to know people on a deeper level. Through online conversations, you can learn about someone’s interests, values, and goals. This makes it easier to build relationships that are based on more than just superficial things.

How Networking Can Help You Personally

Thinking about networking as part of your personal-professional arsenal is a great place to start because it ensures you know the value of collaborating with others. Here are some other ways the networking can help you professionally:

- Helps you build your professional brand: Networking can help you build your professional brand by expanding your reach and online presence. By connecting with others online, you can share your work, ideas, and thoughts with a wider audience. This can help you attract new opportunities and grow your business or career.

- Helps you build relationships: Networking can help you build relationships with other professionals in your field. These relationships can be beneficial professionally and personally. You can learn from each other, collaborate on projects, and support each other in your career journey.

- Helps you stay up-to-date: Networking can help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. When you’re connected with others online, you can easily stay informed about new developments in your field. This can help you be more competitive and successful in your career.

- Helps you find mentors and mentees: Networking can help you find mentors and mentees who can support you in your professional journey. A mentor can provide guidance and advice, while a mentee can offer a fresh perspective. These relationships can be invaluable as you navigate your career.

- Helps you find job opportunities: Networking can help you find job opportunities that you might not have otherwise known about. When you’re connected with others online, you can learn about open positions and get referrals for jobs that are a good fit for you.

How Networking Can Help Your Business

What about if you're a business owner or marketer? Why should you network online then? The answer is because successful online networking can have a substantial positive impact on your business. Here are some of the business benefits of networking.

- Online networking helps you build your business: Networking can help you build your business by expanding your reach and online presence. By connecting with others online, you can share your work, ideas, and thoughts with a wider audience. This can help you attract new customers and grow your business.

- Online Networking helps you find partnerships: Networking can help you find partnerships that can help you grow your business. When you’re connected with others online, you can easily find collaborators who can help you with marketing, product development, or other aspects of your business.

- Online networking helps you stay up-to-date: Networking can help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. When you’re connected with others online, you can easily stay informed about new developments in your field. This can help you be more competitive and successful in your business.

- Online networking helps you find mentors: Networking can help you find mentors who can support you in your business journey. A mentor can provide guidance and advice, while a mentee can offer a fresh perspective. These relationships can be invaluable as you navigate the world of business.

- Online networking helps you find customers: Aside from building your professional network, online networking can also help you find potential customers who might be interested in your products or services. When you’re connected with others online, you can learn about their needs and interests. This allows you to tailor your marketing efforts to reach them more effectively.

Here are a few more important things to keep in mind when you are networking online. First, online networking is not about self-promotion. You should focus on building relationships and providing value to others. Second, online networking takes time and effort. You need to be patient and consistent in your efforts. Finally, online networking is not a substitute for face-to-face networking. While online networking can be beneficial, it’s important to maintain a balance between online and offline networking activities.

That's all you need to know about online networking! By following these tips, you can use online networking to build your professional brand, find job opportunities, stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, and much more. For more networking advice or for general networking information, read our post on how to network