We’re all familiar with the old cliché: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Any business expert will tell you that networking is one of the best ways to advance your career whether you are currently looking or planning to find your next job. Networking is the art of meeting people or joining a group of people who share a common interest or goal. Business networking is defined as the means by which individuals and groups connect for the common purpose of conducting business.
What’s new about networking is that it’s just as important how you network as whether you network at all – and the technology is now available to facilitate more efficient and effective ways to network. With the emergence and rapid adoption of online networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Linkedin, networking has moved to cyberspace and online networking sites are now dedicated to connecting people via the internet.
So what is Online Networking? I define it as the ability to identify, develop and manage social and business connections via the web. The main benefit of participating in online networking is that you can take advantage of access that is unavailable with traditional networking. Online networking tools include the networks themselves - webs of millions of people who are just a few clicks away from receiving an electronic message from anyone within the network – and the application to assist in maintaining those networks.
Online networks for business such as Linkedin, provide business professionals with an unmatched flexibility to enable participants to make connections, share information and post inquiries at any time, from any place, across the country and across the world. It is THE business application that allows businesses to get – and stay – connected to their prospects, customers and partners.
Online networking is based on traditional networking in many ways. As a business, you want to promote your business, meet prospects, make contacts, build relationships, generate opportunities and close sales. As an individual, you should get - stay - connected to maintain your business profile, nurture centres of influence and join communities of interest. Just as prospecting, relationship & brand building and networking takes time in the real world, it’s the same online – only more effective and efficient. Outside of job search, it’s also a good support resource for day-to-day job concerns.
Establishing a broad network enables you to turn to different experts or groups, depending on your professional challenges. You should network when you have a job, not just when you need one.