Networking Tips: The Simple Online Guide
I wonder why some people find it very difficult to follow God. Perhaps, they are waiting for Him to join a social network before they start to follow Him. ~ Edmond Mbiaka (Tweet this)
It’s hard to get started, right? There are so many negative thoughts around it you don’t even feel that it’s worth getting started.
But in the words of Timothy Ferriss, “Your network is your net-worth”. It’s the one part of your online business that is super-essential but constantly gets neglected. And, like that foul-tasting medicine you were given as a child, it’s one of the most effective.
With the right networking tips, this doesn’t have to be all that bad. In fact, once you get started, it’s a good experience. Like you’re constantly growing your circle of friends one-by-one. And the bigger your network the more successful you can be.
Online networking tips
In this article you’re going to learn:
- Quick and easy online networking tips
- Why research is your new best-friend
- How to add value to any relationship
- Why every message should have a purpose
If you’re ready, let’s get started teaching you some networking tips.
Choosing a relevant person
Before you start connecting it’s a good idea to identify the kind of people you want to connect with. They should be completely relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter if they’re an authority in a particular niche. An assistant at a company you want to work with, or someone you came across on YouTube.
If they aren’t going to help you progress forward, now or in the future, they aren’t quite worth spending your time on. Only you can decide if a person is relevant to your business. But when you do, take a leaf from networking guru Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone.
He recommends you keep a list, a journal or a spreadsheet of all the people you want to connect with and their relevant information. If you just jot down one name a day, that’s 365 people you could connect with in a year.
Do your research
Once you’ve chosen your person it’s time to start researching them. The more you know about them the better; from what their last social media update was, to how their business/blog/service has been doing this year.
This is where you want to try and find some personal information. Something that you can connect and bond over. A problem you can help them solve—more on that in a minute—a new product they are launching, or if they’ve just finished a local triathlon. Flattery will get you everywhere. And nobody is more flattered than when you’ve gone out of your way to learn something about them as a person.
Try looking at some of these to begin with:
- Blog posts
- Social Media accounts
- Wikipedia pages
- ‘About Us’ pages
Have a clear purpose
Before you go into any conversation, have a clearly-defined purpose for what you want. Do you want to…
- Arrange a Skype chat?
- Ask them for advice?
- Book an in-person meeting?
- Ask them to read or review an article?
- Just establish a connection with them?
Once you decide, write it down. Use it as the common theme in your e-mail or message to them. And be sure to make what you’re looking for crystal clear. Their time is valuable so respect it. People are rarely offended if you make your point clear or ask for what you want. It saves them a lot of time and mental energy.
The clearer you are with them, the more likely you are to get what you want from them. Even if that’s just a quick, “Hey, I saw we’re both in the same city, could I buy you a cup of coffee sometime?”.
Give more than you take
I’m a member of a community called the Non-Job Campaign. It’s a Facebook Group all about building a business from your passion. Which, thankfully, I’ve been rather successful at. In that community I get a lot of messages from people looking to build a writing business. The common theme tends to be:
“Hey James, I love your posts about Freelance Writing – I’m looking to build a blog, but I’m pretty new to writing. Could you look at my blog, answer these 30 questions on Copywriting and sign up to my mailing list?”
Which is followed by lots of questions on becoming a writer. And I never answer these messages. Why?
Because there is nothing in it for me. I’m not against helping people. I have no problem looking at someone’s blog. And I love seeing writers succeed.
But here’s the problem. It’s a lot of work for me for no return. If I get 10 messages like this per day that’s almost a full time job of replying to their e-mails. They’re taking much more than they give. Keep this in mind when you try to network with someone you want to know.
How much value do you offer the person at the other end? What benefit do they have from knowing you? Why should they take the time to respond to your e-mail? Because some of the people you’re looking to connect with (especially for blog’s) are getting hundreds of e-mails like that per day. And they won’t want to reply either.
This is where your research really comes into play:
- Do they have a product you could promote?
- Do they have a service that needs a testimonial or quote?
- Have you found a WordPress plugin their site could benefit from?
- Do you have access to a service they could benefit from?
- Can you solve a problem they posted about on Social Media?
A key phrase about networking tips comes from Jeff Goins, “It’s not who you know, but who you’ve helped”. The more you can offer someone when you’re reaching out; the more memorable you will be. And the more likely they are to help you out in the future too.
With these online networking tips, your experience doesn’t need to be a horrible. And it doesn’t need to be hard.
Whenever you’re approaching someone remember this:
- Choose someone relevant
- Know as much as you can about them
- Respect their time
- Have a clear purpose for speaking to them
- Give much, much more than you take
- Always be yourself
If you follow these simple notes your network (and your business) will grow for a long time to come.