There’s ample opportunity to expand our online networks as well as our in-person ones. Are you capitalizing on it? Or are you putting in minimal effort for minimal reward?
Maybe you want to transition from having no digital networking strategy to building one.
If that’s the case, this article can help you do just that.
- The power digital networking holds
- 10 steps you can take to build your online network
- The tools you can use to help
- How to marry traditional networking with digital networking
The transition from traditional to digital networking isn’t about abandoning one for the other; instead, it’s about enhancing and expanding.
Traditional networking, with its business cards (preferably digital business cards!) and face-to-face interactions, holds a unique charm and personal touch.
But it can be limited to geography, time, and access. You can’t be everywhere at once.
Digital networking, on the other hand, amplifies these traditional methods by breaking down these barriers.
It enables you to reach out to professionals worldwide, exchange ideas, and cultivate partnerships without the constraints of location and allows you to reach a much larger audience.
For example, a single LinkedIn post can reach thousands of people in a few hours. The only way to replicate that reach in the real world is if you were giving a public speech. But even that would require everyone to be in the same place.
A strong digital network can unlock doors to new business opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations.
It can also amplify your brand visibility, credibility, and influence in your industry.
And that’s true for your company or your personal brand.
Knowing the power of a strong digital network isn’t enough. You need to build one. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “your network is your net worth.”
And it’s true. The relationships you cultivate can open doors to job opportunities, investment opportunities, and more.
In fact, 80% of professionals believe that career success can be elevated through professional networking. That belief surely comes from experience.
But building a network isn’t an overnight task. It’s a long-term investment that requires consistent effort and strategic planning.
And just like traditional networking, digital networking relies on putting yourself out there and creating opportunities to connect with others.
Here are 10 steps (and strategies) you can use to build a strong digital network:
- Define Your Networking Goals
- Identify Your Target Audience
- Leverage LinkedIn
- Engage in Online Communities
- Attend Virtual Events
- Share Valuable Content
- Utilize Digital Business Cards
- Follow Up and Stay Connected
- Provide Value to Your Network
- Regularly Review and Adapt Your Strategy
Let’s build out each step:
Before you start networking, it’s crucial to define what you hope to achieve. Are you looking to find potential clients, learn from industry leaders, or build your personal brand? Having clear goals will guide your networking efforts and help you measure your success.
Knowing who you want to connect with will help you focus your networking efforts. Identify the types of professionals, industries, or roles that align with your networking goals.
Social media platforms are powerful tools for networking. LinkedIn is a great place for building your professional network and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
Ensure your profiles are complete and professional, and actively engage with your others by liking and commenting with posts related to your industry and interests. You can also start to ‘connect’ with people you don’t know in real-life this way.
Take it from Tim Hanson who’s accumulated 25k followers on LinkedIn over the last year. His bit of advice for those building out their digital network on LinkedIn is:
Engaging on other posts gets you pretty far and exposes you to audiences others have built but don’t forget to build your own audience and create posts yourself.
Join online communities relevant to your industry or interests. Participate in discussions, answer questions, and establish yourself as a knowledgeable and helpful resource.
They even have a channel where people can post asking for freelancer support. Freelancers can win business that way as well as recommend others for the work. Otherwise, it’s a great place to problem solve, bounce ideas off others, and meet new people.
Virtual events, webinars, and online conferences are excellent opportunities to meet and interact with professionals from around the world.
It can be hard to ‘stand out’ in large ones, so try and find small events where you can actually chat rather than be spoken at by an event host.
Regularly share content that provides value to your network.
Sharing valuable content not only showcases your expertise but encourages engagement from your connections. It’s a great way to become an industry leader and for freelancers it’s a great way to get clients.
What does ‘valuable content’ look like? That depends on your audience but common examples are how to guides, industry news and insights, unique data points, and research.
An effective digital networking strategy will incorporate in person networking too.
Digital business cards, like those offered by Doorway, are a modern, sustainable, and efficient way to share your contact information in person. They can be easily updated and shared, making them a valuable tool for digital networking.
While you’ll make those initial connections in person, the ability for your contact to receive links to your socials, your website, and more means the relationship can go digital seamlessly where you’ll nurture that relationship outside of the traditional sales and marketing environment.
After making a new connection, you’ll want to regularly engage with your connections to keep the relationship active.
Engage with their posts, reach out when you have news that might be interesting to them, and make sure to respond when they reach out to you.
A little bit of effort can go a long way.
Look for ways to provide value to your network, whether that’s by sharing relevant content, making introductions, or offering your expertise.
How you provide value will depend on the nature of your relationship. Are you trying to win their business? Then you might share with them industry news that educates them on their problems that your service or product solves.
As with any strategy, it’s important to regularly review your networking efforts and adapt as necessary. Keep track of what’s working, what’s not, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
By following these ten steps, you’ll be well on your way to mastering digital networking and building a robust network that supports your business and career goals.
It’s only natural that technology plays a part in amplifying your digital networking.
Here are some examples:
- Personal websites
- Doorway – digital business cards
Platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, and even personal websites can help you showcase your skills, experiences, and establish you as an industry leader. They allow you to control your narrative and how you’re perceived in the digital world.
LinkedIn, for instance, is more than just a digital resume. It’s a platform where you can share industry insights, engage with thought leaders, and even find mentors.
For example, a marketer might want to connect with professional marketing leaders to learn from them and maybe even generate job opportunities off the back of a professional relationship.
There’s also personal brand management tools like Taplio and Buffer who can help you grow and measure your Linkedin presence.
Email remains a powerful tool for networking. It’s personal, direct, and gives you the space to communicate more extensively.
Tools like Mailchimp can help manage your email communications, allowing you to send out newsletters, share updates, or simply stay in touch with your network.
There’s also Slack—a platform where you can find industry related groups, participate in relevant discussions, and connect with professionals from around the world.
There are numerous public Slack workspaces dedicated to various industries and topics where you can share ideas, ask questions, and learn from experts.
For example, if you’re in the tech industry, joining a Slack workspace like “Tech London” can provide you with opportunities to network with other tech professionals, stay updated on industry news, and even discover job opportunities.
Attending specific industry events, both physical and virtual, should also be a part of your marketing strategy today.
These events provide opportunities to meet industry leaders, learn about the latest trends, and connect with potential clients or partners.
Finally, digital business cards, like Doorway, provide a modern and efficient way to share your contact information.
While it’s meant for in-person networking, it’s ease of use and ability to link contacts to your socials, website, and more helps lay the foundation for future digital networking.
If you want to learn more about digital business cards you can read our article that lists the best digital business cards on the market.
The key to successful networking lies in striking a balance between online and offline interactions, creating a holistic approach that leverages the strengths of both.
If you regularly attend offline events, even when focusing on digital networking, you’ll provide a personal touch that digital interactions often lack. It allows for deeper conversations, better understanding, and a stronger connection.
These offline interactions can then be nurtured and maintained through digital means, creating a networking strategy that is both broad in reach and deep in connection.
Here are some strategies to integrate offline interactions with your digital networking strategy:
You can find offline events in your industry or area of interest. After attending these events, connect with the people you’ve met on LinkedIn or via email to keep the conversation going.
You can also use your digital network to find offline events or have your digital network attend them with you. That way you can transition an online professional relationship into an in-person one.
Digital business cards, like those offered by Doorway, can be shared during offline interactions.
The fact that the card lives in your phone’s digital wallet (Apple or Android) makes it seamless to share. You’ll never be limited by the number of business cards you’ve brought with you as the QR code technology can be scanned again and again.
Learn more about Doorway here.
After an offline meeting or event, follow up with a personalized message through email or a social media platform. This helps to solidify the connection and opens the door for further communication.
Share insights or experiences from offline events on your social media platforms or through email newsletters. This not only provides value to your network but also helps to keep you on their radar.
If you’re part of a local industry group or community, consider creating an online space for it, like a Facebook group or a Slack channel. This allows for continuous communication and engagement, even when offline meetings are not possible.
Looking ahead, we can expect to see even more integration of technology in our networking efforts.
Virtual reality, for instance, could take virtual networking events to a whole new level, providing immersive experiences that closely mimic face-to-face interactions.
Artificial intelligence could help us manage our networks more effectively, providing personalized recommendations on who to connect with and when to reach out.
But no matter what the future holds, the core principles of networking will remain the same. It’s about building genuine relationships, providing value, and supporting each other in our professional journeys.
So, as we stand on the brink of this exciting future, there’s no better time to invest in your digital networking efforts.
And what better way to start than with Doorway—the perfect bridge between traditional and digital networking.
For more on digital networking and ROI, read our post here.
Speak to our team