“Connecting” and “sharing” are widely used terms today, especially when it comes to developing relationships that help grow your business. There are many ways to “connect” with others including prospects, decision influencers, and resources for referral business.
For those of us that did not grow up with social media, it can be daunting. There’s abundant pressure to learn more platforms, apply new skills, and create more profiles and content leaving little time to apply quality to just a few focused activities. Whatever method is used, the people in your network are your “best partners”!
This article addresses the importance of partnering with your network using the LinkedIn “Groups” feature.
Networking is a Skill. LinkedIn is a Tool.
When you embrace the concept and “mindset” for networking, you can evolve your relationship building skills at a social event to online networking savvy. I have chosen to apply my skills and use LinkedIn as a tool because it works well in reaching my target audience and peers and fits my online communication skills. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing tools for professional networking.
If you have a LinkedIn profile and continue to add connections to your valuable network, then consider how your social event networking skills can be used with a feature within LinkedIn called “Groups”. Groups are like online social events with peers or your target audience. You meet others, shake hands, get introduced and become a resource for your online group of connections with the same communication skills you use in a live event!
Let’s begin with the concept of why you attend social mixers:
- They are gatherings on a topic that interests you.
- You want to add new connections to your network to build your business.
- You are seeking speaking opportunities.
- You want to hear an interesting presentation.
- You like to engage in discussion with peers.
- The group members are part of your target audience.
- You want to contribute and become a resource to the group and get to know other members beyond the surface.
- You want to develop deep relationships with your network.
How to apply your social networking skills to your online networking savvy
All of these motivators can be applied online using LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 so check out some groups that will be worth your engagement time. Although quality connections may be the first criteria, there is a benefit to being a part of a larger network and groups provide that opportunity.
- When you are a group member
- Your network expands to all members of that group, increasing the opportunity for direct connections and provides for interesting topic discussions within your target audience.
- There is a greater chance of knowing someone in your connected groups that can introduce you to an important prospect or offer you a speaking engagement.
- Groups can be a collaborative and sharing tool to impart important information on trends and share content with others. You can be an incredible resource for your group network.
- If that isn’t enough, you can also start your own group to provide a platform for networking and “like thinking” professionals. I did this with a LinkedIn group called “Bear2Bull Networking”. Other groups I’ve joined include coaching, sales, training, and entrepreneur related groups. These are either peer or target audience groups to share my resources and expand my network and knowledge base within my professional areas of interest.
How much time should you spend on social networking?
How we use social media tools evolves as we consider the time spent and the results we see from the investment. I reinvested 3 hours of travel to my online networking time using LinkedIn Groups!
I was attending 2 events per week and spent a lot of time driving to events. The Groups tool became complimentary to my live event networking because I decided to reduce my attendance to 1 live event/week and invested that new found 3 hours in online social networking. This business tool has been key to growing my business and has been much more productive than driving!
There are many components to deepening relationships in an online environment. Your skills are already being used at social events and with creativity, you can apply them to the online tools for active networking to engage and share with others. In time, your expertise and resourcefulness shows through.
Are you ready for investing in your online group social networking? What skills will you apply from “working a room” at a live event to becoming an online resource for your connections?
Penny Pearl , Founder of Bear2Bull Coaching is skilled in networking both at live social events and online. She coaches entrepreneurs, start-ups and sales organizations on how to build better networking skills to generate new sales and increase business. Penny is an entrepreneur with a strong sales background and a Board Member for the International Coach Federation, Sacramento Chapter as the Professional Development Chair. Her engaging coaching style makes the adventure of learning online business building networking skills simple so you can get results to grow your sales!
Sign up for Penny’s tips on networking using LinkedIn: BETTER NETWORKING = MORE SALES
She can be reached at Penny@Bear2Bull Coaching.com.