In today's online world for conducting business, business owners are often confronted with the demand to network online. While online networking is a great tool to position your business for success and interaction within the community, it is decidedly different than its in-person counterpart. The online world has an entirely separate set of rules and etiquette that determines how people must interact.
As a small business owner, we strongly encourage you to develop a solid online presence if you have not done so already. The average customer looking for home security and automation will start by doing an online search. This will bring them directly to your website, online reviews and social media pages, along with any other online presence you have established.
To help you stay ahead of the curve and make the most out of your time, here are five strategies for effective online networking:
1. Engage in Social Media
The most important advice we can give you about online networking is to take advantage of social media channels. Social media is the single strongest influencer in the online world. Billions of people actively use sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ on a daily basis.
We recommend that you start with LinkedIn for professional networking purposes. LinkedIn is designed to focus on professional networking rather than being a generic platform for all things social media. Once you have established some contacts here, consider branching out to some of the other platforms to reach a broader audience.
2. Do Not Ignore E-Mail
E-mail can be a double-edged sword in the business world. For example, a business executive's mailbox can become so swamped that most of the e-mail received every day goes straight to the trash bin. On the positive side, e-mail can be a very effective networking tool if you use it correctly. Do not dismiss e-mail as being unproductive; rather, learn how to use it effectively.
Effective e-mail networking means making contact just frequently enough to remind others of your partnerships but not so often as to become a nuisance. Make sure to remain engaged, clear, and concise in your email communications.
3. Follow-Up With All Contacts
One of the worst things you can do for networking is to ignore those who make contact with you. Whether via social media, e-mail, or simply posting comments to your website at the end of a blog post, don't ignore those who are trying to engage with your company. Interacting positively with all contacts as quickly as possible goes a long way toward building valuable networking relationships creating trust.
4. Generate Productive Content
Online networking is not exclusively the domain of email and social media. In fact, you can get the networking ball rolling by generating productive content that invites others to network with you. Content can include everything from blog posts and informational articles to polls and surveys. Utilize all of your online resources – including your own website – to get your content out there.
5. Expand Your Reach
It is not possible to delve into every online networking opportunity all at once. Therefore, you have to start with those opportunities most likely to achieve positive results and work from there. At any rate, you should be gradually expanding your online reach as your business grows. The further your network expands the more opportunities you will have to grow your business. Be creative and innovative with your content ideas, and don't be afraid to take risks!
At Monitronics, we offer Marketing support and resources, including a Wix website template, original white papers, social media advice and much more. Contact us today to get started!