Networking online or social networking isn't all that different from traditional business networking such as your local Business Network International (BNI) Chapter, local Chamber of Commerce, service groups, or professional networking organizations.

Just like with traditional face-to-face networking, being a successful social networker means you:

Show Up Regularly
People work with and recommend people they know, like and trust (aka the KLT factor). And that happens over time with consistent exposure. The goal is to be both professional and authentic so that you attract people who are truly a good fit with your values and interests.

Focus on Building Genuine Relationships
People can sense very quickly if your interactions are always one-sided (with you trying to sell them something). Make sure you’re communicating a genuine interest in building a relationship by offering or sharing helpful resources, and the sales will come naturally when there’s a good match.

Coordinate Connections
Contribute to the network by helping to match people who can benefit from knowing each other. The good karma will come back to you tenfold if you’re focused on giving instead of taking.

Social networking has certain unique benefits for small business owners, and is literally your opportunity to connect with a whole world full of potential clients who are in dire need of your service! For example ...

    Unlimited opportunities to demonstrate your industry expertise with your network, which can be done by simply posting or sharing links to your articles related to your specialty. And, being in a position to answer questions from others is made available to you, allowing you to keep the conversation going and the making of new-found connections and professional relationships.

    Sharing what you know in a way that’s informative, helpful, and beneficial to people who have a genuine interest in what you do and how they can learn from your experiences is an ideal way to reach millions of people online.

    Contributing regularly to the ongoing conversation at social networking sites allows you to build a credible name for yourself and your company, supporting your brand while being viewed as a valuable and trustworthy resource. Focus on giving high-quality information and feedback, industry insights and ask questions that when answered, will be beneficial to those who are taking part in the discussion.

    Maintaining a presence and profile on social networking sites keeps you top of mind when a need for career services comes along, because you’ve established yourself in that niche within the network. People will automatically feel more comfortable working with you or recommending you if they already have a sense of your credibility via your online reputation – it doesn’t matter if they’ve never met you in person.

If you’re feeling hesitant about getting involved with social networking and learning how things work, believe me you’re not alone! I can relate because I was there too. But what I discovered is that even though it takes some time to set up and explore the many different social networking options out there, once you choose one or two to settle in with and you begin to contribute regularly, the connections, relationships, and visibility you gain makes it all worthwhile!

Author's Bio: 

Maria Hebda, CCMC, CPRW ... Connect, attract, and nurture ... the cornerstone for creating a thriving business of ideal clients!

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