Leverage resources, tools and opportunities to build quality connections, says Chi Chi Okezie

Similar to work-life balance, there should be a balance between your in-person and online networking. Below are useful tips for uncovering the advantages of online networking:

Cast a Wide Net

The use of mobile devices and apps to connect, do business and share information offers an opportunity to tap into resources for elevating our online presence.

Having a visible, consistent and relevant online presence

  • strengthens your personal and professional brands;
  • expands your global reach;
  • positions you in your industry / field as an expert;
  • can offer proof of credibility and professionalism;
  • makes you marketable and accessible;
  • can be easily and frequently updated;
  • leads to trust and likeability.

Connect in virtual places where you:

  • can share with like-minded individuals;
  • are able to offer value and vice versa;
  • develop your skills and abilities;
  • learn about info in your field / stay current;
  • have opportunities to grow your network;
  • engage in a safe space / productive self-expression.

Do Not Neglect the Back End

Many social media platforms provide analytics on your posts, engagements and profile. Use these quality and valid data points to complement your networking efforts. Learning better topics to post, comment and share can increase your ability to be visible and connect with the right individuals. It can also offer insights on how to add value to your online communities. Consider optimizing your profile page by including visuals (infographics, images and videos) to encourage conversations and interactions. Utilize apps and scheduling tools to be consistent in these virtual environments. Additionally, these apps and tools may offer analytics and other useful data points.

Using the data analytics from your posts can:

  • give insights for interacting meaningfully with your network / followers;
  • provide creative ideas for types of posts, comments, etc.;
  • gauge the best days / times to engage online;
  • support proper decision-making for goals and objectives.

It’s a Different World

See this virtual space as a new networking world. Embrace the notion of attending virtual events as wholeheartedly as you would in-person events. Prepare for virtual meetings with the same zeal as if you were meeting someone face to face. Use the virtual functions just as effectively as you would at live events, such as:

  • Foyer = Virtual Waiting Room. Before the event, type your name in the chat. Share where you are dialing in from and why you registered to attend.
  • Microphone for Q&A = Raise Virtual Hand for Q&A. Raise your virtual hand or come off mute to ask your question or address the speaker.
  • Pass Out Business Cards = Type in / Save the Chat. Do your due diligence and type your contact info in the chat box. Make sure to save the chat before the virtual event ends. This will allow you to connect with those who also shared their information.

Once you have attended a successful event, the networking is not over. It is imperative to follow up in a timely, professional and intentional manner. In the case of virtual networking, follow up within 1 or 2 days. Follow-up can be responding to a survey or email from the host of the event or connecting with new or old contacts via messaging.

Take charge of your networking by balancing in-person and online activities. Develop the same approach and discipline to establish and build effective partnerships, and leverage the resources and tools to effectively engage and build your networks.

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Chi Chi Okezie is the owner and producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC, a consulting firm based in Metro Atlanta, GA, USA which specializes in business networking, diversity and inclusion. Her company was granted a Proclamation for Business Networking Day by ... (Read More)

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