Who is best suited to succeed with business networking? This is an obvious answer in one respect. Anyone who has an internet connection and a computer can access the increasing number of social networking websites found all across the web.
However, a less obvious answer is based on the time management and interactive preferences that you have. Do you like to spend time on the computer? There are certain personality types who try to minimize their computer-based interactions as much as they can, while other people love their phones, tablets, and monitors. There is no wrong or right answer, it is just a matter of preference. The more that you like to work digitally, communicate via email, and browse the internet, the more likely that online networking will be a good fit for you.
Don’t worry if you really aren’t into online living. Keep in mind that web-based networking is merely a means to an end. You can effectively leverage a small amount of time spent online when you use this time to briefly connect with new contacts that you are interested in meeting in person or to follow up with after you have already met them in person.
Consider ahead of time how many hours per week or day that you are really willing to spend on online marketing, in addition to how you would like to spend this time (i.e. reading online forum discussions, updating your profile, making blog posts, responding and reading comments, tweeting, reading blogs, etc).
Which is the best online networking platform for you? Choose the one(s) where your target audience spends the most time. Currently, the best places are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
No matter how many websites you are active on, make sure you are clear – with others as well as yourself – about your goals and motives. Remain value-oriented, informative, and positive.
Learn which interactions move you as well as members from your online community towards relationship building that is productive and those that just suck your energy and time. For example, when someone asks you a question, that gives you a chance to be helpful and also demonstrate your knowledge at the same time. However, be careful, when comments move in the direction of opinion since you could easily end up making an offhand comment that ends up going viral – and you will instantly regret it. Once something is online, there is no way to truly take it back and your unintended remark could end up having a huge audience.
Above all else, like with any type of business networking, your goal is developing social capital. You will need to confront this question when it comes to the online world: Will the investment of your caring, energy, and time in other networkers that you encounter be reciprocated in meaningful ways? You are the only one who can define what you think is meaningful, and you are the only one who can determine whether or not you have made a productive investment.
Having an online newsletter ad blogging make great complements to your online networking. However, keep in mind that they can be quite time-consuming as well. You will need to update your material on a regular basis in order to stay current – both in terms of your audience and your content. So proceed deliberately and carefully if you decide to use one or both of those communication tools.