As part of a networking series, I wanted to give you some advice for how to add people to your network online.
I wrote a Getting Started Networking piece awhile back, and it was based on moving your offline network, the real world people you know, to the online medium. It’s a quick way to get started and find people you know.
Note: Don’t start pestering people with tons of requests for them to join your networking site. Start by searching for people you know and then getting connected, friending them, or whatever the term is on your site to link yourself with them.
It helps to align yourself, and build bonds with people in your field. Search out your particular career field or profession and find people that do similar jobs. Try to connect with them somehow. Either let them know you are interested in knowing more people in this field, or ask them a question. Develop and ice breaker with them by adding a comment or question that shows you are interested in what they do or know.
Another alternative is to start meeting people in other places. It could be online at some other site, like a forum or discussion board. It could be offline at some event, but participate in the medium, and once you start to know people, ask them if they have a LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. profile.
Many social networking sites have some concept of groups. Facebook has groups and pages you can “like”. LinkedIn has a variety of groups. Twitter has friends and even lists you can look over.
Find some of these that seem to be appropriate for your career and join them. Over time, as you participate in the discussions, you’ll build relationships, and add these people to your network online.
Use Business Cards
Don’t forget that the offline world is a great place to build connections. When you’re out, especially a professional events, and you meet someone, ask them for their online networking links. Ask if you can send them an invite to be part of their network. You won’t get a ton of these, but a network is something you build over time.
Make this Repeatable
The important thing is to regularly work on your network and expand it. When I was early in my career, this sounded like work, like something a salesman constantly does. They do, but you don’t have to attack it in the same manner.
At some point, networking should be easy. It’s a regular habit that you get into, spending a little time after an event, or periodically online, adding people to your network. Reaching out, and forging relationships.
It’s really no different than what we often tell our kids. Just say hi and make friends. That’s all networking really is.