Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Business Networking on the Net

Business networking is as old as business itself. It used to be called “rubbing elbows” or “working the room”, but it was all networking before the term became common.

Being a network, the internet is an great place for business networking – but you wouldn’t know it by how long it’s taken many of us to come to the realization. While LinkedIn, a business-oriented networking site, beat Facebook to the web by almost a year, it never had a chance against its more “social” rival and others, including MySpace and Twitter, which blew by LinkedIn in popularity after only two years.

Online networking is an important part of any business's internet marketing and LinkedIn is as good a place as any to start. A good example is Charlotte Business Professionals. In June, 2008, Jason McKinstry opened a LinkedIn account from his office in Charlotte, NC. While things were slow in the beginning, he began receiving messages from other LinkedIn members in town. Jason decided to start a LinkedIn group to bring together all of his Charlotte business contacts. One year later, the Charlotte Business Professionals LinkedIn group has over 4,000 members, monthly face-to-face meetings and has just launched their own website

Fortunately, if you prefer to Tweet rather than link, social networking sites are not just for finding out your mother is getting her hair styled right now. Business groups and networks – and opportunities – exist on every major networking site. There might even be a networking site devoted to your industry or interests.

For most users, online networking success doesn’t just happen by joining a site. Networking requires action. In fact, it usually requires two actions: a) finding contacts, and b) being found by contacts.

When you join a network, you should actively search out those with whom you are most likely to make a connection. If you’re a real estate agent, you might want to search for mortgage brokers or lawyers. When you spot them, make contact.

Being found means developing a web profile that makes it easy for other searchers to find you and know what you are about. That way you are more likely to attract the sorts of contacts you want to pursue.

Finding and being found – that’s networking on the ‘net.

By Stephen Da Cambra

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