Online Network Example
Kiara wants to be a marketing executive, but for now she's just a marketing assistant. She's heard that building her online network can help her advance, but she's not sure how to do that.
An online network is simply a group of people in your industry that you are in contact with online. Most often, you build your online network via social media. For example, Kiara is on Twitter and LinkedIn, and the marketing professionals she's in contact with through those channels are part of her online network.
Your online network should be a part of your personal branding strategy. It can help you make contacts in your industry, keep up with the latest innovations and trends in your field, and advance your career. To help Kiara develop hers, let's look at how she can cultivate her online network with people she knows already and people she doesn't know yet.
People You Know
Kiara knows she needs to build her online network, but she feels a little overwhelmed. Where does she even start? It's often easiest to begin your online network by connecting through social media with people you already know. The focus should be on people in your industry, not old friends. For example, Kiara will want to reach out and connect on LinkedIn with coworkers and former coworkers, clients, and people she meets at conferences.
That's not to say that Kiara can't connect with anyone else. If one of her friends from high school reaches out and they aren't in the marketing industry, she can still accept their invitation to connect. But her energy and focus should be on sending out invitations and following people in her industry.
Each time Kiara meets with someone in a professional capacity, she can request to add them to her online network. For example, when she goes to a conference, she might meet several people who she wants to add to her network. She can then connect with them online and continue their professional relationship there.
One feature that LinkedIn provides is that of recommendations. Kiara can reach out to people she has worked for, including bosses and clients, and request that they write her a LinkedIn recommendation. This recommendation will show up on her online profile and signal to others in the industry that she's a good person to connect with.
People You Don't Know
Kiara, like most people, finds connecting online with people she already knows offline to be much easier and less intimidating than trying to connect with people she doesn't yet know. But growing her network online also includes getting in contact with others with whom she hasn't yet had contact. How should she go about that?
The first thing to recognize is that networking is about benefit to both people. Kiara will want to mention why she wants to connect and what the value is to the other person when she requests a connection online. For example, if Kiara wants to connect via LinkedIn to someone she doesn't know, but she recently wrote a blog post that talks about a topic that the person is interested in, she can send them the link.
Kiara will also want to look for influencers and decision-makers in her industry. Often, influencers are powerful people, are well-known, and have many followers in social media. To identify them, Kiara can look at the newsfeeds of people, companies, and brands that she follows. Anyone who is mentioned or quoted in articles as experts in the field is likely to be an influencer.
Finally, Kiara can engage in LinkedIn groups that include important people in her field. There are many groups on LinkedIn and several that deal with marketing. Kiara can look both at the groups themselves and also look at the LinkedIn profiles of influential people in marketing to see which groups they belong to.
An online network is a group of people in your industry that you are in contact with via social media. To grow your online network, begin by connecting with people you already know in your industry, like colleagues and coworkers at your current job. Add any contacts you meet to your online network, and ask for LinkedIn recommendations from clients and bosses.
When reaching out to people you don't know offline, mention why you want to connect and what the value is to the other person to connect with you. Use newsfeeds to help identify influencers, who are powerful people, are well-known, and have many followers in social media, and decision-makers in your industry, and connect with them. Finally, engage in LinkedIn groups that include important figures in your field.
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