Today, people have two lives: offline and online. And it is obvious that being visible to your social network physically and virtually opens the door to limitless opportunities. Anybody in your circle can change the trajectory of your life.

Building an online presence is a process not an event and it will take you time to create. But, a little goes a long way. Networking online isn’t much different than the offline networking you engage in throughout your daily activities. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow in order to be more successful in online networking.

Optimize your online presence

During offline networking, you simply have to be friendly, professional, and natural. Networking online, in the other hand, requires a little more technical savvy. Over 300 million people around the world use LinkedIn to maintain their professional network, and you can use it to display your online CV. Your profile on other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can also help you to connect with more people and opportunities. Just be sure that you protect your privacy, don’t share hate and other negative contents on your profiles!

Be proactive

Pick five to ten people you don’t know well or at all but who seem like attainable contacts. Follow their social media accounts and look for opportunities to engage with that person. You can start by retweeting their posts with your own audience, answering question they may ask or sharing a thoughtful response to one of their posts. Offering kind words on their profile like “I find your work inspiring and love to learn more about your career!” also could be an option to proactively connect with your peers.

Help people

People will be more responsive to you if you can help them, especially if you can help them with something they really need help with. Never start with the objective of making a sale, if you’re building your connection for business purpose. This also applies if you’re looking for a job–don’t abruptly ask for a vacancy in a HR person you’ve connected online. Instead, start with the goal of forming a relationship. This will serve the long-term purpose of opening more potentials.

Keep the lines of communication open

On your LinkedIn profile, you can activate the Send InMail feature so that your network can contact you. You can also include your valid email address and phone number.

Use online communities and professional groups

Expand your online network by joining online communities and groups related to your expertise. In LinkedIn and Facebook there are plenty of open groups in specific interests like marketing, science, or human resources that you can join. Members of groups usually share articles, open discussion on certain topics, or even share job vacancies in the group. Who knows that it is a starting point for the change in your life?

Maintenance is key

Building connections could be easy, but maintaining them is a whole other story. Online networking allows you to connect with thousands of people, but it could be difficult to know them at an intimate level. Staying in touch is the most effective way to keep your online network close. Be consistent in share great articles with your contact list, or just send over an email to say hello every now and again. Contacting them only when you want something will make your effort to reach out to them become less and less welcome.

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