In today's world, we have access to one another like never before. The opportunities to meet with business prospects are endless, thanks to the internet. Networking is one of the most effective ways to meet new people and pursue new job opportunities. However, traditional networking events can be overwhelming.
With so many online forums, social media outlets and niche events where you can meet your peers, suffering through the anxiety of the traditional networking event is no longer necessary. Here are a few alternative options you can choose from to boost your contact list and diversify prospective opportunities.
Use the LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn is the social media platform for business professionals and the first place you should start to build a professional network.
Chances are, you already have a LinkedIn profile, but you might not be maximizing the platform's opportunity for networking. Here are a few tips on how to use the Groups and Publishing functions.
LinkedIn Groups - Join groups in your field and participate in them. Groups are a great way to meet people in your industry and obtain feedback on any questions you may have. Participation is the key to building relationships. You only want to join a group you feel you would be able to benefit from and give back to through participation.
By starting and joining in on existing conversations, you can connect with others within your industry. Once you've connected within a conversation, you can send a request to individuals within the conversation to connect.
LinkedIn Pulse - LinkedIn members can share self-published content through LinkedIn Pulse. If you have been in your field for a while, you most likely have some insight on process improvement. You also might have a solution to a difficult situation faced by others in your line of work. You can leverage this knowledge by writing a service piece and publishing it on LinkedIn.
In an article for Inc., Glenn Leibowitz explains that LinkedIn users want "Information that will help them become better at their jobs, tools that will help them identify and build upon their strengths, and actionable advice that will position them for new career opportunities." Publishing your knowledge has the power to spark conversation and can further your networking goals.
Use Your Social Media Networks
Social media has changed the way we communicate, and that goes for networking as well. Interaction is important, according to an Inc. article, and social media is the perfect place to foster interaction. The article also states that brands are participating in regular communication with customers, potential hires and fans through Twitter.
Facebook groups are another great resource for connecting with others. These groups allow for like-minded individuals to come together in a concentrated setting. Groups automatically filter out the excess that can make social media overwhelming.
Attend Industry-Specific Conferences
Conferences are conducive to meeting with others in your profession. When you attend an industry event, you are in the company of others with similar interests. This can lessen the anxiety associated with networking. A conference is also a great place to meet with people you have connected with online. You can prearrange to meet with your online contacts to engage with those connections and keep them fresh.
Educational sessions at conferences are chock-full of useful information to help you stay up to date in your field. Make note of speakers you want to meet -- you can often connect with them at the educational sessions. Engage them in conversation during a session lunch, or thank them for their topic and let them know you would like to connect through LinkedIn or email. Make sure to have your own contact information handy.
Networking is still a necessary skill. The avenues for interaction have changed since the advent of social media, and luckily, the way in which we meet people has changed as well. Whether online or in person, networking no longer means stale introductions and boring business cards. We now have the power to bypass the pleasantries and zero in on the people with whom we share interests, values and professional goals.
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