The Internet provides a great opportunity for business networking. You can make contacts and build connections with virtually anyone in your profession, regardless of where they’re located in the world. There are websites dedicated to helping people build their business networks, of course, and LinkedIn remains a business networking juggernaut.
LinkedIn is probably the first place for you to begin your online business networking efforts if you haven’t already done so. But it’s important to do more. Because so many professionals are using that site, you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd a bit if you go beyond LinkedIn for your business networking.
Since Facebook is the biggest personal networking website in the world, it’s not surprising that the site has also grown into an important destination for business networking. The standard practice is to keep your personal activity and your business networking separate on Facebook. You can do this by setting up a separate Facebook pages for your company or product, and doing most business networking activities on those pages.
Google+ remains a somewhat underutilized social network, but it still retains a great deal of potential. While there are far fewer people who are using Google+ than Facebook, there’s a perception that Google+ has not yet become overwhelmed with fake profiles, spammy users and blatant business promotion that some people find a bit too prevalent throughout Facebook.
Don’t limit yourself to websites that are focused on networking. Networking actually happens in a lot of different ways. Be active on other websites and blogs by participating in community discussions. Just be careful not to try to sell, not to promote too blatantly, and don’t be a jerk. Provide useful information to others, build your reputation, and over time other community participants will trust and respect you. This can eventually lead to various types of professional opportunities.
The continued importance of face-to-face networking cannot be overstated. In fact, many business professionals are feeling rather burnt out feeling like they stay active on each and every social networking site and service that might help their business or their career. Instead, go “old school” and get out there and actually meet people in your industry or related industries.
One of the best bets for local networking is your local chamber of commerce. These organizations often have broad membership bases, so you’ll be able to network not only with people in your particular area of expertise or line of work, but also in unrelated fields and industries. You’d be surprised at how often these types of relationships can eventually yield something positive and valuable to your career. If there’s not a chamber of commerce in your city, check at the county level.
LinkedIn can be a great foundation for your business networking activities, just make sure to do more than just spend time on that one website.
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