What is Digital Networking?
Digital networking is effectively taking the action of meeting new people, online. One of the best ways to do this is using certain social media sites – but even if you’re not keen on social media, there are still ways to network online.
So, how do I network online?
There are plenty of resources and articles around this topic available online, but here are some of the key tips to get you started.
Build your online presence
Many businesses and organisations have an online presence – whether this be on social media sites such as LinkedIn or via blogging platforms or websites. This provides space for people to connect and share information with others, as well as improving brand awareness.
With more than 675 million members, LinkedIn is becoming increasingly prevalent in the professional world and brilliant way to get started building your online network. You can use this platform to showcase your skills, experience and interests (much like an online CV) as well as engage with your online connections and leaders in your industry. Setting up an account is free and there are lots of videos and guides online to help you set your profile up.
LinkedIn is all about business connections and it’s not unusual to request to connect with someone you haven’t spoken to or met before. People are far more likely to connect if you send them a personal note – in the same way that a CV with a covering letter is more likely to be read. Something as simple as ‘I’m interested in knowing more about your industry and the work you do and would love to connect’ will often suffice – but even better if you can reference a piece of work they have done or an article they have written.
Build your presence by interacting with your connections and potential new connections, as well as by engaging on other social media such as Twitter, Instagram or Clubhouse. Twitter, for example, is used by professionals across many industries including tech, journalism, politics, and more.
Sharing some personal content with your networks will build relationships but keep in mind that this is about developing your career – a private account might be better for sharing content you’d prefer not to share with a future employer.
Not sure what to share? Have a look at the profiles of people in the sort of roles you’re interested in. What are they sharing? You’ll probably find a mix of personal and professional. A good way to start is by finding articles or statistics that you have found interesting and sharing them with a comment – or resharing content from another contact with a note about what you like about the post or why you think people will be interested.
Contribute to the conversation
Get involved. As you are developing your online presence and growing your network, position yourself online so that you can be part of the conversation. Wherever the conversations are being held, try to be there too, with valuable comments or appreciation of what’s already being said. This is more likely to make people want to reciprocate your interaction and take notice of you.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Follow relevant pages, people and newsletters
- Stay up to date with your industry or job roles that sound interesting
- Reply to or comment on people’s posts and articles – even seasoned professionals welcome feedback, shares or comments that show they’re reaching people
- Offer your insight on topics you’re interested in
- Share valuable resources and information you spot – and tag the original source to show appreciation and increase engagement
Not keen on social media?
While sites such as LinkedIn can be great for online networking, you can still engage with companies and individuals online outside of social media. Search for free events and webinars on sites such as Eventbrite or visit the websites of companies you’re interested in to see what events they’re running.
Take part in conversations during events and follow-up with the event hosts afterwards. Keep a note of the people you meet and where you met them. Many blogging sites allow you to add comments to the end of articles which is another way of getting your voice heard. Why not start by telling us what you think of this article in the comments section below?
As you grow in your professional life, your network will continue to grow too – and is likely to change over the years as you branch into different roles and sectors and your connections and relationships will require some nurturing over time.
Keep in mind that networking is essentially about meeting people and making connections. Some will be people you will learn from, some may offer you opportunities, and for others, you will be the one providing support or opportunities.
At Digital Innovators, we teach our students the importance of networking and building meaningful relationships in their professional life. In our experience, the most valuable networks are those built on strong communication and collaboration. Through our skills training, we prioritise these skills which our students practice with their peers and with employers during their live business projects. Find out more about our programmes here.
You can find some more useful information on networking here.