Learning to network online can come with its advantages and disadvantages but knowing how to get into the mindset of both selling and networking online will help. After all, how do you know whom to contact when you need something?
How To Network Online Learning
As a workplace coach and online learning specialist, I hear of a lot of opportunities to network on a regular basis. It’s easier and faster than you might think.
Conventional wisdom says that you need to attend some type of networking event in order to actually meet new people. I understand that people need to interact with others, whether that’s face-to-face or in groups, in order to build and maintain relationships. However, we’re also social creatures and like to connect, with other humans.
We like to mix things up and talk to people about what we’re all interested in. Our journey is rarely a typical path. I can sit here with a stack of business plans and start chatting with someone about their football team. Then I casually ask them if they know what’s going on with the Bills. Next week, I’ll talk to someone about their favorite baseball team. You get the idea.
As we get older, however, we may not be as comfortable chatting up new people who have not been around us for 20 years. That’s okay, because there are plenty of opportunities to interact with other people online. The key is being flexible and ready to be creative.
Here are just a few ways to start hanging out with new people online:
Write About the Stuff You’re Interested in — There’s a reason that when people are interested in something, they start to write about it. That’s just how it works. In other words, the more your articles are about topics that interest you, the more people will learn about it. Searching for topics and information is why others find your blog; it’s not just about your own content. People learn about what you have to say and what’s happening in your industry. Find a blog/podcast, group or section of social media and post regularly about the subjects that interest you.
Tell Your Story — Be ready to tell your story about why you’re passionate about a subject. This story can make you seem valuable and even “must-see” to other people. You don’t have to embellish or oversell your passion. Just tell it! — One example of how I present my story are in the first few paragraphs of my blog posts. If my post has less than 300 words, I talk about why I blog or podcast about it, and then talk about how I can be of service to my readers. It’s not puffery, it’s a completely honest description of how I got to where I am today.
Become a Teacher — Teach other people. Once you express interest in something, teach that person how to make the same discoveries about it that you’ve made in your own search for information. Don’t just throw a lesson plan at someone. Become the first person to introduce someone to a topic that they might be interested in.
Befriend Your Colleagues and Partners — Let’s face it, you’re probably really good at your job, so your team probably really needs to talk with people on the outside. Establishing a comfortable relationship with your teammates can lead to making your work community even bigger. As you become a leader in your industry, find a way to open up your office and share what you know. There’s an inherent trust between employees and those in leadership roles. Creating that trust will lead to increased collaboration and loyalty from your team and office.
Get Involved in Online Learning — If you’re not a college graduate, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to jump on board. Start by taking a class and applying for a certificate. Or start by having a couple free or low-cost courses that you can apply for. Remember, if you’re having difficulty figuring out how to get involved, look to your industry, or communities. Perhaps your local PTA would be interested in adding this to their offerings?