Networking can be one of the best ways to find a job, but it’s not as cut and dried as it once was. Thanks to the advent of the internet and the social networks that come with it, online networking is the next big frontier in building business relationships.
Don’t be intimidated, though. Once you understand the main tenets of online networking, you’ll be making new contacts in no time. To get you started, here are a few of the biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to online networking.
1. Do Adjust Your Communication Style
Humans usually speak at around 95 to 110 words per minute—but they can only type at about half that speed. That means that you’re going to have to adjust how you communicate when you’re networking online. Be deliberate in your communication, and make sure you’re conveying the right tone. Conversations won’t be as speedy as they might be in person, but they can still be just as effective and courteous if you make the effort.
2. Do Give as Much as You Get
Networking is a two-way street. Try reaching out to a new contact to offer something instead of asking for a favor. And if someone goes out of their way to help you out, make sure to properly thank them and pay back the help. In the digital world, you might consider writing a recommendation for their LinkedIn or signal boosting with their posts to help them gain more exposure.
3. Do Your Research
This is one of the most important tips: Research the kind of industry and career you want to work in. Look up companies that do what you’re interested in, and then reach out to people connected to those organizations. This important step is often forgotten, but it’s imperative in the digital age. You’ve got all the information you could want right at your fingertips, so make the most of it!
1. Don’t Be Hasty
Not everyone is online all the time, so give your contacts a while to reply before reaching out again to follow up. It also doesn’t hurt to take a little extra time to proofread your messages to make sure grammar and spelling are correct before sending them; it’ll make you look much more professional.
2. Don’t Give Up
This is probably some of the hardest advice to apply, but it’s also incredibly important. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get any hits on your first few rounds of messaging and networking. Building relationships takes time, so stay the course and trust the process. If you get discouraged, try finding a mentor who can help you figure out how to adjust your online networking strategy—they’ll be able to help you get back on the right foot and pointed in the right direction.
3. Don’t Overextend Yourself
Social media is great for building bonds with new people and for cultivating your brand, but it can also be surprisingly hard to disconnect from. Some research indicates that overuse of smartphones might negatively impact productivity, which isn’t something many prospective employers appreciate. Set limits for yourself and step away from the devices when it feels like there’s too much going on—you’ll see marked benefits in your personal and professional life when you do.
Following these do’s and don’ts for networking will help you in your quest for starting out in a new field or taking the next step in your career, so start implementing them today.
Shea Drake lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she has managed marketing teams in companies both large and small. She's obsessed with all things tech, leadership, and marketing. When not talking about tech, she's planning her next road trip. You can find more of her writings on Twitter @SheaDrakePhoto.
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