Digital networking is a concept we all can easily reckon with in today’s digital era. While networking has always been an integral part of professional & personal learning and growth strategies, digitisation has made this process more pervasive. Now in addition to in-person meetings, we have numerous digital platforms that keep us connected and effectively networked remotely.
Social media platforms, professional networking sites and digital networking events are playing a key role in staying connected with humans, organisations, and even ideas and ideologies. Millions of people are using these platforms for doing business, socialising, branding and advertising, finding or offering new opportunities, sharing ideas and learning new concepts, building communities and extending support, and much more.
The right mix of these platforms can help you build a strong business networking plan for your organisation. In fact, trends suggest, making digital networking an imperative component of your business marketing plan can help you realise better ROI in the long run.
Why networking is necessary
It maximises your reach: Digital networking gives you the power to build connections with those people who are physically far away, maybe even across the world, while offering you a sense of proximity as though they are present in your room. You may need to make a little extra effort to build a rapport through digital platforms but such connections do have the potential to translate into long-lasting relationships.
It diversifies your network: When you connect with one person through a digital networking platform, you are likely to find more like-minded individuals via that person’s digital network. That’s how digital networking platforms facilitate connections. These connections expose you to diverse cultures, practices, ideas and opportunities allowing you to learn, innovate and expand.
It allows you to network anytime, from anywhere: You can use the digital networking platform to initiate conversations with people you want to make part of your professional or personal network. You can follow their activities online and stay in touch by commenting on or sharing relevant posts or messages. You don’t need to wait for specific occasions or events to network with your connections. You can be an active participant in any important digital event, meet or discussion from anywhere, anytime.
How to build a robust digital network in five easy steps
Accentuate your digital presence: When creating your social media profiles, professional network profiles, or your website, make sure you add important information about yourself, your organisation and what you do. The people you are willing to network with must find relevant and useful information about you. You can use marketing content tools such as blogs, industry-specific discussion groups, case-studies, articles and more to establish yourself as a leader who has experience and credibility to be trusted by people who are a part of the network.
Leverage the value of digital networking: You must ensure your presence on all important digital networking platforms such as social media handles, professional networking sites and digital networking events. You must be aware of all the latest social media trends and use them for your marketing and branding. You can use hashtags to join relevant and topical conversations or posts to amplify your network and connect with people who have similar interests on professional networking sites. You can post information about your key events or start debates on industry-specific topics.
Organise or attend relevant digital networking events: Whether it is a webinar, tradeshow, partners meet or customer conference, it is important to keep tab on events that are specific to your interests or networking needs. You can participate in digital networking events and use that as an opportunity to build rapport with other attendees, establish connections with sponsors and organisers, and interact with speakers and presenters. Make sure you network with other attendees before, during or post event. Use hashtags to know who all are interested to attend the same event as you. Use a digital event management app to create your profile and reach out to other participants during the breakout sessions or through virtual chat rooms. If you are organising a digital networking event, then you may start by promoting the event on digital platforms and using the best technology platform to execute a successful digital networking event.
Optimise data to align your networking goals to business goals: One of the key advantages of digital networking is that you can get access to important data and insights. Digital networking platforms can provide you with numbers that can answer your questions about the demography and interests of your target group. You can use this information to build your networking strategy around your larger business goals and accomplish those successfully. For example, after you have attended a digital networking event, you can collect data about the connections you have made, which sessions garnered the most interest from them, and whether it is relevant for you to keep some of those connections active for a longer time. You can analyse this information to devise a go-to strategy to keep the connections you feel has potential, and nurture based on what may interest them and how.
Build upon your network: The contacts you gather through digital networking must be used for strengthening your connections. You may engage with them digitally at first to gain their confidence, and then pursue face to face meetings. Afterall, nothing beats the power of face-to-face in-person meetings. Make sure to keep in touch with the connections you make after the first time you have met them. This helps them relate to the objective you want to reach out to them for.
Networking is a critical aspect of any marketing strategy today. It opens doors to new ideas, possibilities, and associations. Sharing, communicating, and engaging with like-minded individuals or those with similar aspirations lays the foundation for inventions, problem solving and community development. Use these steps to effectively build a reliable digital network.
Remember, you grow with the network and the network grows with you.