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
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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Analyze your network.
- Set aside a certain amount of time
to spend networking every week.
- Master the basic online networking
- 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
- 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
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.