In the past few years we have seen the growing popularity of working remotely, which has led to online networking becoming increasingly important. Online networking provides a lot of opportunities and advantages: it saves you time and money and lets you engage with thousands of relevant peers right from your home office.
However, as with networking at an in-person event, there are some best practices for online networking. LinkedIn is by far the most important B2B channel when it comes to online networking, so we will share the most important do’s and don’ts for online networking when using LinkedIn. These tips can be applied to other channels, as well.
Table of Contents
Do's of online networking
1. Ensure a good online presence
Online networking starts with good self-representation, similar to offline networking! Your profile is your online business card. Whenever a website is not working well, it comes across as untrustworthy. The same applies to a LinkedIn profile.
Ensure you have an up-to-date profile that represents you well! This begins with a good professional photo, a summary that includes professional and personal details, and relevant and recent work experience. Try to express the core of your business in your headline; this can be stated in a short but powerful sentence.
2. Use your current network
Start a conversation with people who are already in your network. Have a look at your current connections and send a message to people with whom you have not been in touch with for a while. Perhaps it’s time for a virtual meeting again !
Also make sure you have good follow-up. Often people are busy and don’t reply to one message, but if you have a natural follow-up process people are more likely to respond.
3. Search for relevant online events
Often online events go hand in hand with a relevant target audience. Inside this list of attendees at a LinkedIn event you can find an interesting target audience.
Are you, for example, looking for new ideas and want to share some best practices? Then this is where you should look. Be clear what your intentions are when you want to start a conversation, because being up front often leads to a higher conversion rate.
Don'ts of online networking
1. Open with a sales pitch
It is not recommended to start a conversation with a sales pitch. Most of the people on LinkedIn receive multiple connection requests and messages per day. A sales pitch is not something that you should rely on as a conversation starter. It is better to create value for your prospects, such as offering a white paper or a free demo. Then you can ask their opinion about what you offered and see if the conversation naturally develops to discuss a sale. Another strategy is to ask industry-related questions to the prospect as a conversation starter and go from there.
You don’t have to sell something right away, since an interesting conversation can be valuable and could be the start of a new lead. Whenever you are looking for a collaboration you should also mention this in an appropriate and professional way.
2. Neglect planning your engagement
Finding the right balance when it comes to engagement can be challenging. If you post too often, people could experience this as annoying, but when you don’t post enough people will forget about you. Online networking requires an investment of your time and it is not something you can do quickly,in between other tasks. It should be considered as a task on its own.
Establish the right balance and know which channel you should use for the right message. A content calendar can help with planning what and when you should post. It can also be helpful to create a good overview of the topics you should post about and who is responsible for creating the content.
3. Focus on the short-term
Think about how long your sales cycle really is. Remember that online networking sometimes has the same sales cycle as cold acquisition. You should not expect direct results when it comes to online networking, but instead, think about the long term. Set specific goals based on what you are trying to achieve and consider when certain actions are a success. On top of that, make sure you have a good CRM system because connections made today who are not showing interest could still end up being your customers in the future.
As mentioned earlier, a good follow-up strategy is key. Never underestimate the time you need to invest to make this work. While online networking does save you time compared to offline networking, it still requires a big commitment.
By following the do’s and neglecting the don’ts you will notice that online networking can be a lot more appealing for your business. You can count on more responses and you can contact old connections again. By continuing to post relevant content, you improve your image as a thought leader in the market. Keep your profile up-to-date. All together, these steps will make it easier to connect with potential prospects,which ultimately will lead to better results in the long term. Tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you find the right prospects.
At LeadHQ we can always tell you more about online networking and how to get the most out of lead generation through LinkedIn. In addition, we also offer a LinkedIn Audit, which comes with the conversational selling package. Would you like to know more? Check out this page!