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Some helpful methods and networking tips for self-employed women at work to improve online business networking skills.
By Jyoti Bhargava
Being inherently shy by nature doesn’t help me as a freelance professional. I’m wary of going to business meets to hand out my visiting card or make small talk. Hearing my own voice in company makes me self-conscious, and making cold calls to get work is an absolute no-no.
What I do enjoy immensely, in contrast, is connecting with individuals or professionals through social media, sharing my observations on their blogs or views expressed elsewhere and helping them find resources. I’ve now been an online-person for more than a decade. Over this period, I’ve found that my interest in hobnobbing with online communities has got me rewards even when I haven’t aimed for them consciously. No doubt, this happens for individuals who network offline too, but since I’m not one of those, I’ve decided to share my take on online business networking.
Complete your online written profile. Wherever you should decide to establish your presence for professional interests, please ensure that your profile reflects your relevant work experience and directions. Adding your photo to your LinkedIn or Twitter profile isn’t an option but a necessity. Unless you’re a business owner and targeting Facebook to build a community of customers, you can treat that space for interacting with friends and family, and choose to share personal data that you’d like to reveal, but on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter or other subject-specific forums, please identify yourself appropriately as that would promote your individual brand.
The online world of netizens comprises of a range of individuals and not just those from your area of career interest. So, it’d help you to not be aggressive in marketing yourself and instead be truthful about your talent, friendly in your tone and respectful of other people’s time-this caveat also cautions against tweeting 8-10 consecutive tweets or sending requests recklessly to all members of all the groups you’ve subscribed to on LinkedIn. That way, you’d only be turning people off your personal brand.
Instead, as per your capacity to network online, have regular, genuine conversations on the identified social networks, share knowledge against Q&A on LinkedIn and other focused community groups, tweet relevant resources on Twitter and respond to questions asked, and do make a point of leaving comments on blogs of your interest as they would help connect you with many thought leaders.
…be truthful about your talent, friendly in your tone and respectful of other people’s time…
Blogging may seem like a dwindling trend but it continues to be an excellent medium to organize your thoughts on a certain subject and offer something more substantial than what a tweet or comment on a blog permits. Thoughts and experiences once posted as a blog also get captured by search engines, show up in searches and lead online researchers to you. As a result, blogs help position you as an authority on a subject if your posts present a usable resource to seekers of that information. Even if you don’t see yourself writing every day, do make a point of blogging often enough on your blog and seek out opportunities to write guest- posts on other focused and content-rich blogs.
Invest your energy into building your online networks in a consistent way but don’t expect rapid returns in the form of work offers or contracts. For instance, if you’re seeking a job or a new consulting assignment within a month, do reach out to your audience using other mediums too, since online networking requires sustained effort to establish your credibility. Use it primarily to listen to others and be heard by some, and believe me, rewards will follow.
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