Pre-pandemic, the world often felt a lot smaller. That’s because most of us were bound to physical proximity to maintain in-person interactions. Now, some networking events are against the law in places, forcing you to find new ways to replace face-to-face interactions with prospects and clients. Stay ahead of the game and discover 3 must-know online professional networking tips all salespeople should be taking advantage of this year.
- Networking Tips for Sales Professionals
- Building a Referral Network: How To Generate Leads Using Connections
- Digital Networking – Build Connections Online
What is online professional networking?
Online professional networking is the process of building and maintaining an interconnected web of professionals with whom you have mutually beneficial relationships. This differs from in-person networking as it takes place virtually via professional social networks (the most common example being LinkedIn) that focus solely on interactions of a business nature rather than including personal, non-business-related interactions.
What is the importance of professional networking?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”— African Proverb
Online professional networking allows you to connect with others outside of your immediate industry proximity, meaning you can build connections worldwide. While having more influential relationships can expand a business, there are several other critical benefits of engaging in professional online networking; discover them below:
Benefits of using online professional networks
- Creates referral generation networks: 86% of companies with an adopted referral program have increased revenues over the past 2 years.
- New Ideas and Opportunities: Connections lead to partnerships, leads, and joint ventures, but be mindful first to conduct due diligence of the situation, then align your goals to the project to ensure it’ll benefit the business.
- Demonstrate credibility/thought leadership: Solidify your reputation as a reliable, valuable, and knowledgeable figure – you’re aiming to become that business that automatically pops into other businesses’ heads when referring
- Gain visibility: Testimonials are everything; they’re authentic and invaluable to generating new leads. So it’ll come as no surprise that relying on word of mouth will have a higher generation and conversion rate.
- Staying up to date with knowledge and trends: Stay on the pulse of industry trends, news and notable companies or people.
3 Online Professional Networking Tips
Streamline your approach and further maximize the impact of online professional networking digitally with these three tips:
1. Find your audience’s core channels
When making new professional connections online, you need to consider how you can best select the most representative groups you can have the most impact on. Discover the most appropriate online professional networking platforms below:
LinkedIn & Facebook Groups
Arguably the largest ‘digital networking platform’, LinkedIn is the perfect place to interact with other businesspeople and make connections. While LinkedIn is good, LinkedIn groups are even more powerful because they give you access to a huge number of highly qualified target audiences, who are all interested in the same topics.
Similarly, you can find people who are more emotionally connected and motivated. So if you connect via LinkedIn and Facebook, you can combine both sets of information to get a holistic picture of how you’re going to talk to the person, establish a relationship and build trust.
Overall, the best groups to join are usually centred around alumni, social causes or directly related to your industry as they will produce most of your highly qualified target audience.
2. Relate with prospects
If you’re wondering how to start a conversation with prospects online, you need to begin by being relevant. For example, when looking at their online professional network profile, consider, “what are they doing now?”
Usually, something of mutual interest or value that will resonate enough with them to respond, like a similar educational background or favourite sports team. You’d be surprised how many maybe even be willing to meet you for informational interviews or give you a call to find out more.
3. Refine social profiles to project thought leadership
If you take a moment to look at all thought leaders in your industry, chances are, they all have a very professional profile page, and you may think so what? They just want to look good. No, when you have a professional-looking profile page, it establishes trust and credibility. Overall, people need to know they can trust you.
You can even include action and a benefit – so it’s not a missed opportunity. Most of all, though, when refining your social profiles, make sure you’re consistently sharing valuable content. Many people will follow you because they want to know what you think about specific issues and topics. So don’t be afraid to share it.
Fatal online professional networking mistakes to avoid!
Now you know what to do with online professional networking, discover some common pitfalls to avoid below:
Super huge misconception if you think that LinkedIn is just for a job. At the end of the day, we’re all looking for jobs. Job doesn’t mean employment. Employment means work. Work means business. Job means opportunity. Job means partnerships. Jobs mean joint ventures. All of these things. So if you’re looking to connect with people, LinkedIn is the place to be. The number one mistake people make is they avoid LinkedIn
No profile photo
People need to see whom they’re connecting with online. Imagine if you went to a networking event in the offline world and met someone who put a mask over their face – you’d be left wondering, “who are you?”, “why are you doing this?” Online professional networking is all about taking that mask off and just showing people who you are with authenticity and genuineness.
LinkedIn is like a search engine. When prospects go on LinkedIn, they’ll type in what are they looking for. The headline is just a few words that could describe what you do in a powerful way. Still, these keywords will link prospects to your profile, for example, social media, sales, branding, communication, networking, digital person, content marketing.
Not accepting requests from strangers
If you want to have incredible people in your circle, you’ve got to be willing to take a chance. More so, if you’re going to get different results from what you’re getting now, you’ve got to try something different.
Unsolicited marketing in connection requests
Instead, before you even approach them with a message, you must check out your prospect’s profile. Rather than going “How can this person help me?” maybe we can ask ourselves, “How can I help this person? How can I connect this person? How can I be of value and use to this person and give them a reason to want to talk to me?”
Bottom line: Here’s how to make your network your net worth.
Social Networking Training equips you with the skills to find where your ideal target customer ‘hangs out’ online and supports you to add to the conversation positively.
The result? You’ll reach customers at a scale you’ve never been able to do before. Join today and develop the skills needed to be the online professional networking champion of your industry.