How to network online

How to do online networking in business

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Traditional networking used to be a straightforward process – navigating a crowded room at a networking event, business card in hand, while scoping out the best people to speak to, and then attempting to start a meaningful conversation. 

Of course, face-to-face networking is still important, and always will be, but the rise of, and necessity for,  online networks and virtual events has created new opportunities to network. Consider these steps to being able to successfully leverage your online connections and meet like-minded professionals through social media.  

Steps to successfully make business connections by networking online

Maximise your presence on LinkedIn 

Networking events will always remain important, however most networks can now be developed and nurtured on LinkedIn. But before you start to network online, start with the basics: optimise your LinkedIn profile. Ensure you add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections as they are searchable by others, add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature, review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly and join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Be proactive in writing recommendations and participating in conversations. 
If you’re wondering if how many relevant first-degree connections you have matters, the answer is yes, because second and third-degree connections mean you can be one connection away from potentially, thousands of new people to connect with. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.

Get an introduction

This doesn’t mean you should automatically start connecting with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, message your first-degree contact to ask for an introduction first – you’re more likely to get a favourable response. 


So, you’ve just met someone who would be a great addition to your network, but you aren’t sure when to send a connection request. It’s perfectly acceptable to send a request once you’ve been introduced, spoken on the phone or emailed each other. Be sure to always personalise your connection requests too. 

Don’t wait too long – it is standard etiquette to follow up within two days. Try to also accept invitations in a timely manner and send a follow up message to thank them if you’ve met them before. 

It’s not all one-way

Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect though. Offer something of value first, like an article or video that may be relevant to their industry. When it comes to networking, the general rule is that you should give more than you take.  

Be active

Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, react updates from your connections and, join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in certain areas, try starting your own LinkedIn blog.
Be genuine, insightful and authentic, show interest in others, ask questions and be respectful of people’s time. 

Attend networking events 

Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented with face-to-face networking. So where possible take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and/or joining an association or professional group. Meeting people is a great way to generate trust, build your reputation and open doors. Even though traditional networking with business professionals is preferred, don’t overlook attending online events either, as they can still be helpful in building relationships.  

With these online networking etiquette tips, you’re ready to build and leverage your connections in an effective and professional manner. 

What is the benefit to online networking? 

Social media platforms like LinkedIn are a powerful tool in the current world of work. By building your profile, you can get an introduction to contacts who may be helpful down the line, expand your network and be more visible to recruiters.  

What are three keys to good networking?

Always offer something of value to the people that you network with, it isn’t a one-way street. Also, you should have a mutual contact to introduce you, that way people are more comfortable when you’re being introduced by a mutual connection. Always be active with your networking as well, don’t just message someone when you need something, always be interacting, sharing engaging content and be genuine with people.  

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