According to Investopedia, networking is defined as the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.
Online networking has grown over the past little while, instigated by the Covid19 Pandemic, allowing people to exchange data and develop relationships with people all over the world.
Cultural differences make it important to have a contact in a market foreign to you because again, people do business with those they know, like and trust. As mentioned in Part One of this series, it is important to build the Know, Like, Trust (KLT) factor, no matter how you network.
It also helps you to gain insight into their market if you have contact with someone who is local and can help you understand the culture and how business is done, as it may be very different to what you already know.
It's time to understand virtual networking: the pandemic has made social distancing and virtual meetings/events, a part of our everyday life.
There are many reasons (Sitepoint lists 10 here) why meeting new people is important for business and personal life. To work with the situation we were flung into in 2020 and be prepared to possibly face another pandemic in the future, we must turn to virtual meetings or adopt a hybrid approach in order to be successful.
As the past two years or so has taught us, building an international network is essential for business as we know it today (please review this article posted on Export Development Canada’s website to learn more). Whether your goal is to take your business international or not, there is still something to be gained by making contacts in your industry in different countries.
Many who have adopted this mindset into their business model have gained the following and so much more:
• Collaboration partners from whom they can learn from and work with
• Expanded their business offshore by creating satellite campuses of their businesses
• New vendors who could help them expand their offering to their clients or even be their back-up plan in case something goes awry with their current vendors
• New connections who could eventually develop into export clients
It requires attention to grow, and proximity to other plants can help it thrive. So, while you feed your career by learning new skills, why not work on your networking skills to pollinate your life with new ideas?
Here are a few ways to help you implement this and take your connections to the next level:
1. Start with a goal and build out a (general) plan
2. Prepare your profile; remember that it along with your connection message, will be your first interaction with a potential connection, so you’d want to make a good first impression!
Plan to expand your network with the right connections who will become your community, so choose well.
3. Make and contact new connections with a personalized message that is relevant to them.
Engage with their content and invite them to engage with yours.
Share valuable content that is relevant to your audience; adapt the “Know your audience” principle.
Follow up and keep at it; networking is a long game and you need to “gently massage” your relationships, building rapport over a course of time.
For more information, please feel free to check out these links:
The 6 most important tips for virtual networking listed on the website of a recruitment agency
An article that lists 5 Tips for Virtual Networking Success on Forbes.com
Please note that this blog post is the 2nd of a series of 4.
Don’t miss Part Three of this Networking Series to learn more about virtual networking on social media or while attending virtual events.