Online Networking -- Use Your Social Skills to Accelerate Online Networking Success

Are you networking online?  If you're not, you're missing out on a wealth of opportunities.  Read on for a few tips on how to get started.
 
The first thing to keep in mind is that networking online is not all that different from traditional networking. Treat everyone like you would treat people you meet at networking meetings: show genuine interest in them, treat them with respect and try to either connect them or add value.  The purpose is to build relationships, whether you meet people locally or online. 
 
So where in cyberspace can you meet them?
 
Social Networking Sites -- There are plenty of social networking sites that are perfect for meeting new contacts.  They come in a wide range of types, from very business-oriented sites to sites that have a stronger social emphasis.  But don't be fooled.  You can make excellent business contact in all of them.  
 
Here are some good sites to get you started:  LinkedIn.com and Ryze.com are good places to explore on the more business-oriented side of the scale, and Twitter and Facebook may seem more casual at first, but can also help you build very powerful networks. To make them work, you have to actively participate and become a member of the community. 
 
If you're unsure exactly where or how to start you may want to join in on my August 20th Teleseminar where I'll have guest expert Deborah Collins from Soya Marketing sharing ideas on how to use social media to grow your business - contact me if you'd like more information.
 
Now that you have connections, what's next?
 
Create some content -- Once you make contact, you need to be able to send people somewhere (your website, blog or optin page), and you also want to look like a "somebody" or expert. And the way to do it is by creating content -- interesting and valuable content pertinent to your ideal target prospects.
 
How can you do that?  By writing articles you submit to article directories (try ezinearticles.com) and by starting your own blog, where you can write about your business, yourself and topical  ideas and offer resources aimed at providing helpful information.  
 
Also create a newsletter -- The key to making networking pay off is to create a method to stay in touch with everybody.  One way is with a newsletter or ezine.  
 
First you'll need to focus on getting subscribers - here's how:
 
1) Build your Database - a good way is to create an ethical bribe -- something you offer to entice subscribers to sign up for your newsletter.  An ebook or an audio with useful information works well.
 
2) Create a sign-up form, and install it on your blog or website so that people who go to your sites can sign up to get your freebie which also includes a sign up for your ezine or newsletter.  Next, set up an autoresponder to easily handle the freebie distribution and additions to your database.
 
Then the focus is on delivering interesting and useful content in your newsletters to grow and build a relationship with your subscribers. Consider what frequency works for you to be consistent and stay top of mind. 
 
Remember, the focus is to connect with people and encourage them to know, like, and trust you. The better and more useful the information you send them, the better the connections you'll gain.  The longer they're on your list, the more comfortable they'll feel and the better they get to know you and... ultimately, see you as an expert in your profession. 
 
If all this sounds familiar, it's because networking online works much like it does in the offline world. Regular contact builds familiarity, and if that contact is positive, you'll be able to build a very powerful online network.