- One in three professionals in the world use LinkedIn.
- Promote your LinkedIn profile URL through your email signature and business cards.
- When it comes to networking, give more than you take.
By David Cawley
Networking used to be so simple. Where once all you had to do was navigate a crowded room, business card in hand, now we are constantly networking and connecting with people across the globe.
David Cawley, Regional Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance, says these online networks have created real and focused commercial opportunities, but as with any brave new world, there are unwritten rules that, when followed, maximise the vast potential of online networking.
1. Maximise LinkedIn
Face-to-face networking events remain important and will always have their place, but, love it or hate it, the staggering reach of LinkedIn cannot be ignored.
It is estimated that one in three professionals in the world use LinkedIn, so it is imperative that this powerful networking tool at your fingertips is used effectively.
Optimise your profile’s searchability by adding keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections. Promote your LinkedIn URL through your email signature and business cards.
2. Cultivate connections
Review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly, personalise your connection requests and join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Remember every relevant first-degree connection adds useful secondary connections and brings you one step closer to the connection that may change the course of your business.
If you’d like to touch base with a second degree connection on LinkedIn, email your first degree contact first to ask for an introduction rather than reaching out independently.
Remember to say thank you to every person who makes an introduction or helps you in some way. A brief InMail, email or phone call takes one minute, but is a courtesy that pays back dividends in the future.
You can send a connection request once you are back at the office after a meeting or immediately after a telephone or email exchange. But don’t wait too long – follow up within two days. Similarly, if you make a commitment to someone, such as sending a link or making an introduction, deliver within two days.
4. It’s not a one-way street
Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect. Offer something of value first, such as a link to a relevant article. When it comes to networking, give more than you take.
5. Be active
Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content. Like and share updates from your connections and join and contribute to, industry groups. Be genuine and authentic in your interest of others and their skills.
6. Be diverse
As the name suggests, networking is a complicated web with many facets. To ignore one aspect is effectively putting up a roadblock in the middle of all the paths you’ve worked so hard to forge. Twitter can also expand your network and is a great way of staying up to date and informed.
Introductions via technology are a great starting point, but professional relationships are often cemented in person. Take the time to get to know colleagues at work, attend industry events and join an association or professional group to turn tenuous connections into mutually beneficial relationships.
David Cawley is regional director of Hays Accountancy & Finance.
Photography: Nurphoto/Getty Images