I’ve just been using Facebook for online networking, but I really want to go beyond that. So my question is, How do I begin networking and prospecting online beyond Facebook? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.”
—Rachel Roberts, Kansas City, Missouri
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Sherese: “Rachel, thanks for the question; let me give you the quick and dirty version…(I’m assuming you already have a website; if not that should be your first step in order to network online effectively.)
First, ensure that you have some type of communication (newsletter, articles, video’s, podcast) you can send to your new prospects on a weekly basis focused on specific information they can benefit from and a soft sell of your solution. Your goal should be to build a list of your best prospects in order to communicate your message, brand and core competencies on a consistent yet strategic basis. To do this you have to have a communication vehicle for them to opt in to.
Secondly, make sure that everyone you place on your list gives you permission to do so and they understand the communication they will be receiving. You don’t want to annoy or spam your target. I get lots of emails with promotions and events and I never signed up to receive them – this can get you in the dog house with your prospects.
Once you determine your communication and have a process for getting people on your communication list, you have to determine what you’re going to use as your content sharing platforms. For example, will you share articles, an ebook, host special events, share key resources, etc.? This is the most crucial step. You can’t come to the table with no content or generic content. This is your time to showcase your expertise.
Next, we need to increase your “online ego” by increasing your search-rankings. Online ego is about ensuring your ego is big when people search your name; you want at least 3-8 pages of only you. To keep it simple, I would recommend getting your business listed on google places business directory and do a search for other free online business directories and get listed based on your industry. Also, for anything you post or share, make sure you have a consistent closing signature that includes your full name, full company name and a link to your blog or website (whatever you’re promoting). This is very minimal but you should begin to understand the importance of this step.
Regarding this, you also want to act credible online. Make sure you have a good profile bio, a great looking picture and engage with your audience.
Once you have a list building process in place and you have something to share with those you meet (online and offline), you can begin conducting online networking.
Try to find discussion groups and business groups that target your specific market and begin to add comments without a hard sale. Also create your own blog and submit your blog to directories as well, you can get a free one at blogger.com (owned by google). You can also try meetup; it’s been great for meeting new people who are interested in the same things. There’s also tons of content sharing sites that you can begin to submit information to like YouTube for video and ezinearticles.com for article submissions.
Online networking is all about sharing!
This should get you started, but make sure to do searches using your favorite search engines on the following topics: discussion list, online groups, online discussion groups, news groups, social online communities, and business directories. This should give you plenty of choices to start with.
Good luck and please let me know how it goes!”
Your Strategic Partner…SD