If you are unsure how to get involved in online networking groups, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Join networks that contain a cross-representation of related professionals. Let’s say you’re a web designer by trade. Your ideal networking group might consist of entrepreneurs from a variety of fields: copywriters, virtual assistants, and computer experts. This way you’re not competing with a group of other people who do the exact same thing as you. Instead, you’re making contact with people who may one day need your service, or recommend you to their associates. Think team-building potential!
- Participate on a regular basis. Many of our career coaching clients say that they benefit most from groups in which participation requires them to put forth the biggest effort. Meaning, they log in on a regular basis (once a week or more), take the time to craft thoughtful responses, and ask lots of questions. Asking questions not only helps to broaden your own knowledge, but it gives others the opportunity to share what they know. Your curiosity and genuine interest in others will help you to be remembered later.
- You may encounter something surprising or quite different in some online career forums. Some participants may get hot-headed when expressing their opinions. Make up your mind to steer clear of conversations that are negative or unproductive for you. Remain pleasant and professional toward everyone, all the while offering your help and honest insight whenever you can.
- If you feel ready to take your online networking efforts to the next level, then make up your mind to be a giver. Volunteer your time and/or your professional assistance. Networks such as www.ryze.com are always in need of group moderators. Being a network leader can be hard work, but the end result—high quality contacts and real relationships with terrific professionals like you— is well worth the effort.
- If you don’t feel like leading, you can always offer your services or expertise to other members of the group who may need them. This is a terrific portfolio and credibility builder. And don’t forget to write letters of recommendation or give testimonials to those people who help you.
- You may also want to consider doing some volunteer work in your specific field to meet contacts, which is another way to get your name out there and keep your skills honed at the same time.
- Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Many job searchers, especially women, are taught at a young age to be modest, humble, and unassuming. But when a woman is trying to get her foot in the career door, this self-effacing behavior can work against her. Regardless of gender, career networking is a time to market yourself and your abilities. Whether you are searching for full-time work, want to begin freelancing and develop your own website, or are planning to launch your own business, online career networking is the place to share great things about yourself and what you do.
We hope this is helpful to you! The career coaches at HallieCrawford.com.