Virtual connections are the smart choice this year

ONLINE NETWORK ENTREPRENEUR

MOST people I know hate organised networking. Walking into a room filled with people that they don’t know but that they feel under pressure to get to know, is just daunting and quite frankly inefficient.

Digital networks remove those annoying situations that inevitably occur at cringeworthy business networking events simply through the power of search.

Online you can review somebody’s experience before contacting them – instead of blindly walking around a darkened bar peering at name badges in the hope of finding someone relevant.

Now just through a simple search, you can find someone’s professional identity, social status and views on the world, especially if they have a Twitter feed.

With those tools to hand, these are my top three tips for being an effective networker in the digital age:

1 Researching new people before contacting them – either through professional networks, Twitter or by email – is crucial. It is unforgivable not to know something about the person you want to connect with when there is so much information freely available online. Make any communication attempt brief, relevant and personalised.

2 Don’t forget the importance of solidifying a relationship that may have started online with an offline meeting. All too often we think a business connection has been created through a few quick email exchanges or messages. Thatis just the start. Try to take digital links offline too.

Fewer, more beneficial connections are better than lots of irrelevant ones. Don’t waste your time trying to be a friend to everyone. It’s not about having the most digital contacts – it’s about having the right ones.

3 And just remember, the people with the best networks, online and off, tend to do the most for others. This is how they create meaningful and powerful connections. So don’t approach people online only thinking about what they could do for you; try to always have something to offer them first and you will be of far more interest.

Jeremy Weil is a co-founder of ndoorse, www.ndoorse.com, an exclusive recommendation-only professional network. In order to join you need to be “ndoors-ed” by an existing member.