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No one needs to tell you how important networking is to business professionals. You may be thinking that there is nothing new about networking and, chances are, if you are a successful professional, you are extremely good at it. You may have already taken the steps to extend your networking to the Internet. If so, kudos to you; you are already part of the New Internet. If you have not embraced online networking, it is a must for your survival. Virtual relationships can help you in every aspect of your business. According to studues, 80 percent of buyers currently use the Internet to help find a home. Day by day, new tools are surfacing on the Web, and some of the most important tools are networking oriented.

One of the most highly praised networking groups is 1.LinkedIn. If you are not already a member, you should join. It is not expensive (they also have a free option) and it has a wealth of opportunities to connect with people who can be of help to you. It is very easy to find those who share your specific interests and goals. Their slogan, "Relationships matter", speaks for itself. LinkedIn is useful on several levels: It is a great place to get started as it is very user friendly, and it offers extensive options for the advanced user. It and other groups like it are excellent for:

  • Finding potential clients, service providers, subject experts, and partners who come recommended
  • Being found for business opportunities
  • Searching for great jobs
  • Discovering inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals
  • Posting and distributing listings
  • Finding high-quality passive candidates
  • Getting introduced to other professionals through the people you know

You will be pleasantly surprised to find how many people you already know are members of LinkedIn. They offer free and professional-level accounts to give you the opportunity to try it out before committing.

Avenues for networking online are everywhere. If you are thinking, Who has the time for all this?" you will find that effective use of these opportunities will actually save time. The following options have their roots in traditional resources that have now begun to evolve as online resources.

  • Professional Associations & Schools Online: a valuable resource for lists and resources specific to your area of interest
  • Resource Sites & Online Communities: these include directories of people in the profession, vendors, articles, event calendars, bulletin boards, discussion lists, live chats, and links to even more resource sites
  • Business Social Network: online communities focused on topics of interest to you and concerned with connecting persons of like interest with each other. This includes Facebook and MySpace for business use. There is a kind of crossover here between business and social networking
  • Publications: online publications such as e-zines and newsletters offer specific informationusually for free
  • Colleagues & Competitors: make a habit of looking at the sites of your colleagues and competitors. You may learn a great deal about how they operate and perhaps what is working (or lacking) in what they are offering their clients
  • Potential Clients: often you will find that your clients and service providers have Web sites. Don't miss the chance to find out even more about them by visiting their sites.

Here are some of the best options for getting started networking online:

  • Bulletin Boards: a simple Google or other search engine inquiry will bring up lists of these that are topic-specific. Ignore the sponsored links and look at the options available on the first page. These will be the most popular and probably the most likely to be useful to you.
  • Discussion Lists (Listserve): these are discussion opportunities that you can subscribe to and receive e-mails from that tell you what the current topics are so that you can quickly decide whether you want to engage at that time. Remember when you are posting to this or any discussion group to limit the self-promotion and stick to the topic.
  • Live Chats: no longer just the territory of dating sites, live chats are increasingly being utilized by businesses to quickly interact and form business relationships. Often these chats or forums have guest speakers. If you participate by asking a question or offer an opinion you will often find that you will receive feedback and e-mails of interest even after the event is over.
  • Articles: if you come across an article of use to you, take a minute to send an e-mail to the writer or publication. This will open a dialogue and a channel to more information on the subject, not to mention engage you with someone who is (or has access to) an expert in the field or topic of interest.
  • Colleagues and Other Real Estate Professionals: it's no surprise that there are valuable resources here. Take advantage of online communities and business referral networks to strengthen these alliances and expand your knowledge and influence through online interaction.

Be organized in your approach to networking. It is recommended that you spend a couple of hours a week just networking through your group, blog, business social network or any combination of the above. Invite people you know to join groups or networks you have found particularly useful.

  • Document your goals. For each goal, write down how online networks can help you achieve it.
  • Analyze your network.
  • Set aside a certain amount of time to spend networking every week.
  • Master the basic online networking tools.
  • Master your e-mail. Organize your e-mail folders and add contacts to your network.
  • Share your knowledge. Create a file of documents, resources, Web links, etc. that have been helpful to you. Document processes.
  • Write your recyclable documents. Save time by centralizing all of your recyclable e-mails and other text. Write a good introduction to use when exploring blogs or online networking sites.
  • Take control of your virtual presence. Make sure that when people look for you online which they willyour image is both accurate and flattering.
  • Join the virtual communities that target your market or area of expertise. Keep your profile updated. Once you have joined one group, ask the members where else they connect with like-minded people. Be sure to look for smaller groups within large sites.
  • Take a leadership role. Share your expertise. You do not have to give away any secrets to establish yourself as someone who knows what they are talking about.

One of our goals is to help business Professionals make the transition from traditional brick and mortor sales practices to what we call the New Internet. The successful business professional in this new and exciting period of development in the evolution of the Internet business market will merge the best of both worlds: the old and the new.

"The real prolem facing business executives is the use of "old " ideas when it comes to adopting new technology. according to John Hagel, of the Deloitte Center for the Edge."

Now is the time to commit to the Internet and to become informed. Networking is a very important part of the New Internet. Jump in, the water is fine.

To read more about the thinking at Deloitte read theis Pdf file "The Shift".

1.LinkedIn

2.The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors And Closing Deals Online.

Disclaimer: We at sublingua are members of LinkedIn, but we do not have a sponsorship role with them. Our recommendation is based on experience and recommendations from users.