Networking is the life and blood of any business – no matter what size.
While most large companies have systems in place and oftentimes experts for each type of job, the small entrepreneurs and job seekers have many more critical tasks to perform – basically, everything.
Initially, a lot of business may come your way from family & friends and over time, from contacts and referrals. It’s a great way to grow, but often not enough.
Connectivity is Key.
Sure, you network regularly, meet new people on a periodic basis and exchange business cards.
But turning that contact into a prospect, or even better a client, is rarely a one-shot deal. Business data suggests that it takes 5 to 12 follow-ups, and staying in touch, for you to be on top of the list when it comes to deal making.
But Why Digitize?
Remember that great connect you met at an event but whose company name you forgot. You might want to reach out, share the contact or even look up a professional detail or two – or they might want to find you. You can always Google them but getting meaningful info is harder, without access to current and updated info from a career platform. Online digital networking need not be limited to monthly or quarterly meetings, and neither do you have to battle traffic or time constraints to make it happen.
Going digital offers you the opportunity and means to frequently network with a large, diverse set of people.
Here are 8 reasons why your network needs to be digital.
Info at your fingertips. Literally
It can be as simple as finding contact details or professional credentials – most of us are seeking info on the fly, like right before a meeting or frequently at short notice. You need desktop access as well as mobile; the ease to add to phone contacts, cross reference info across professional and even social media.
Accelerate the time to transact
Which of these scenarios sounds better – “Hello, Jane, what do you do?” Or, “Hello, Jane, I’d love to know more about Sweet Delights?”
When I go to meeting or networking events, I always pre-search the online profiles of attendees so it can speed up the initial fact finding process. This means that we can use our time more productively and cut to the chase, businesswise. Added benefit – most people feel gratified that you took the time to look them up.
Ease of updating data
Sharing the new job, a certification you added or a product promotion is much easier online rather than bombarding your contacts’ email inboxes.
Curated data makes it easy for non contacts
Potential clients, headhunters and hiring managers search online using keywords on the web and social. So smartly listed professional attributes and a well connected profile appear on their radars even if you are not directly connected. That said, your existing connects act as a defacto reference so the searcher will look at those too.
People are often looking at common connects to do business.They are also reading online reviews, recommendations and endorsements about you – in fact, 92% of people trust recommendations, mostly sourced online, to buy products or services. Think about it – if you had to choose between two individuals to work with, wouldn’t you pick the one with easily accessible digital feedback?
No matter what your personality type (introvert, shy), Digital Networking gives you the means to tap into and maintain contacts with an unlimited set of acquaintances outside your inner circle of friends, professional contacts and comfort level – think friends, friends of friends etc.
Networking made Easy
The way to leverage networks is not just to ask, but also to give (information, suggestions, endorsements). Sharing info is much simpler with a share button – be it articles, contacts or even connecting 2 people who could do business together.
A digital presence for YOU.
Digital networking is much more than creating that snazzy but static profile on your website. You need multiple ways to stay in touch and also to find and view connects. At 450 million plus Members, LinkedIn is the proverbial ocean already – so look also for the smaller ponds that might work better for your business needs.
Find local Networking platforms and Business Associations that may give you better e-visibility and offer you the option of sharing multiple data points – e.g. not just your credentials but also your web-links, blog(s) and social media handles. An ideal digital platform is one that’s not static and allows you an opportunity to contribute and interact with other members on your terms.
Today’s professional landscape has made digital connectivity but essential. So don’t wait – start e-networking to build an easy access to info and contacts whenever you need it. You never know where you might find the next connect or business opportunity. Or even a life changing one.
Don’t wait for Serendipity, Drive your Success!
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates amateur and pro stock traders.
A trivia buff, travel lover and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family cooking, playing board games and watching documentaries.
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