Networking has been through a lot of ups and downs over the past few decades. Before the Internet came along and took business to an entirely new level, networking was catching a lot of grief from people who couldn’t find success. They would toss out business cards at random, buy advertising space for inferior products, and expect to become rich in their respective market.
Most failed drastically and opened the door for more qualified contenders. These beginning networkers insisted that networking was a wasted effort. However, the Internet has changed that completely. Now, essentially, you cannot operate a successful business without networking.
Networking is not all about advertising your product. That’s the first mistake people make. Networking is more about getting your name out there, meeting people, making connections, and tapping into markets using both your person and your business.
This is when networking becomes successful and helps your business to succeed. In order to network properly, you first have to start with the basics. Step one in networking is to join the right communities.
What we’re talking about here are both social networking sites, business networking sites, and even your local chamber of commerce if at all possible. You will need to join these sites, develop a strong presence, a strong following/friendship base, and work on making contacts in the world before you use these sites to promote your business.
Sites like Digg, Reddit, Squidoo, Twitter and Facebook are all tremendous social networking sites where you can meet literally thousands of people in a short amount of time. Not all will be in the business world, but it does help you to develop a web presence.
On the professional end, websites like Linkedin, Focus, Ecademy, Xing, Care2 and Gather will introduce you to many people just like you. These networking communities provide plenty of opportunity for you, be it teaching or simply reaching people with similar goals. You can meet team members here, future employees, and much more.
You can also step away from the computer and go network in the real world via seminars, community meetings, various organizations, etc. This will allow you to meet face-to-face with people and develop honest relationships.
However, doing things online in today’s technology-driven age is far easier and far more efficient. Not only will you meet exponentially more people by using online community services, but you’ll also be able to do this at your leisure and won’t have to plan around attending meetings and hitting the handshake trail as if you’re a politician.
Use technology to your advantage and immerse yourself in the world of technology. It’s basically the only way you’ll ever get ahead in the networking department. Businesses move too quickly these days to do things the old fashioned way.