With the explosive growth of social networks in the last few years, it’s now easier than ever to connect with people online who can help your grow your business. If you’ve already put your face-to-face networking strategies into use, then you may want to hone your online networking skills, too.
Creative business owners may network to stay current on changes that impact online businesses or on the latest design trends; to find clients, collaborators, or suppliers; and/or to find support from other business owners when local options aren’t available. You may choose to network online through chatting informally, as well as by joining private or unlisted groups, communities, and fora.
Networking Business Strategies – Part 2
If you’re new to online networking, here are 3 tips to help you get started:
Some creative business owners prefer to keep personal and business accounts completely separate. Others use business accounts for interacting with current/potential clients and use personal accounts for engaging with colleagues. And, some have only one set of accounts that are used for all activities online.
Before you start networking online, think about which approach you prefer. Having a set of guidelines will make it easy for you to direct people to the appropriate accounts and to use your preferred “voice” in each setting.
Just like face-to-face networking groups, each online group or community will have its own personality and written (or unwritten) rules. As you join new groups, communities, or fora, be sure to introduce yourself and your business. You may find other members are interested in engaging with a business just like yours.
Once you’ve posted your introduction, spend some time reading through other posts and watching how people communicate before you dive in with more interaction. You’ll learn more about what’s acceptable in the group and how members support each other and manage conflicts. If you’re confused about rules, then don’t be afraid to ask. Most groups will be happy to help and if they aren’t, you will learn something else about the group’s personality.
Just as with face-to-face networking, you’ll want to follow-up with contacts you make about specific collaborations or opportunities. Remember that even private groups are not truly private because information is public for all members. To keep these discussions confidential, be sure to use email or private/direct messages when taking conversations to a deeper level.
What online networking strategies do you have to share?
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