Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How to Make Online Networking Work for You – 6 Top Tips

Many entrepreneurs and business owners are put off using social media to build an online network, because the whole concept is just too overwhelming and time consuming.
Well the good news is, it needn’t be.
There’s a huge gulf between using social media personally and professionally. On a personal note, it might give your ego a boost to say you have 3,000 Facebook followers, but that’s no good whatsoever for your business unless they are the right followers.
In the days before online networking existed, business owners and entrepreneurs would connect through breakfast clubs; chambers of commerce events; conferences and exhibitions. And of course, they still do, although these types of traditional networking venues are reporting a significant downturn in numbers.
Some people would consider it ‘mission accomplished’ if they got rid of their stack of business cards during the course of an event. They would give them out to all and sundry, probably accompanied by a well-rehearsed ‘elevator pitch.’
The savvier among the networking fraternity adopted a more strategic approach: they knew in advance who they needed to connect with, and made it their sole aim. Because online networking is, by nature, time-consuming, you need to remain disciplined and focused.

These 6 Top Tips will accelerate your Social Networking efforts:
1. Create a Social Networking Strategy, alongside your business plan. Few people would dream of starting a business without a business plan to guide them and it’s the same with social networking.
Ask yourself three key questions:
I. What do I want my Social Networking Strategy to do?
Build my brand? Enhance my reputation? Shift more products?
II. Who do I need to connect with to achieve my goals?

III. Where are these people I need to connect with and how do I reach them easily?

Draw up a list of your short, medium and long-term objectives.
2.Another secret to successful networking, is that you should offer ‘value’ without expecting anything back right away. So put loads of free content on your website or blog. For example:

 Ebooks
 MP3 downloads
 Webinars
 White papers
 Training videos & tools

Include anything which establishes you as an expert in your field and which you’re willing to give away for free. Sharing content and giving away value is a great way to grow your contacts organically – which will pay dividends further down the line.

3.When posting to your website or blog, make sure you syndicate your content through StumbleUpon’s URL-shortener ‘‘ – which means it will go to StumbleUpon’s 10m-strong users, resulting in 3-4 times more traffic for you!
4.Use split-testing when making contact with people. You can split-test your email headings, content, the time of day you send your messages. Find out what works for your purpose and use it. But keep on testing.
5.Rather than delivering an elevator pitch to introduce yourself, think about creating your own ‘compelling story’ of around 50 seconds you can send viral via social media sites like Facebook and You Tube.
6.Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for help. Only this week I heard from someone who was planning to go on Dragons’ Den to raise cash for her new business venture. Instead, she ran her idea by a few select contacts in her network and raised all the investment she needed! However, this only worked because she’d built up her contacts over time, established mutual trust – and given away great value first.
You can achieve virtually any goal by networking with the right people. Your network can be one of the most valuable business assets you own, so it’s worth spending some time getting your initially strategy right, for maximum impact and top results!
If you are unsure of how to go about marketing your self through online networking sites an internet marketing consultant will be abkle to help you.

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