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Networking can feel like a bit of a minefield, especially online. Thankfully, Hays’ Jane McNeill is here to share her top tips.

Not so long ago, networking used to be fairly straightforward. It simply involved navigating a crowded room, business card in hand, while scoping out the best people to speak to and then attempting to start a meaningful conversation.

Of course, this face-to-face networking is still important, and always will be, but there’s also a new kid in town.

The rise of online networks has created real, focused, commercial opportunities to network – but there are rules to this new world, particularly when it comes to leveraging your online connections.

Maximise your presence on LinkedIn

While networking events remain important, most networks are grown today on LinkedIn. But, before you start to network online, start with the basics: optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections as they are searchable by others; add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature; review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly, and join relevant LinkedIn groups. Be proactive in writing recommendations and endorsing skills where appropriate.

If you’re wondering if it matters how many relevant first-degree connections you have, the answer is yes because second- and third-degree connections mean you can be one connection away from potentially millions of people. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.

Get an introduction

This doesn’t mean you can automatically interact with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, email your first-degree contact to ask for an introduction.

Do not reach out to the second-degree contact independently; not only is it considered poor form, but people are far more likely to respond when being introduced by a mutual connection.

It’s also good etiquette to say thank you to every person who makes an introduction or helps you in some way. A brief InMail, email or phone call takes one minute.

Timing

So, you’ve just met someone who would be a great addition to your network, but you aren’t sure when to send a connection request.

How soon is too soon? Rest assured, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a request once you are back in the office after meeting the person, or immediately following a telephone or email exchange. Be sure to always personalize your connection requests, too.

Just don’t wait too long – it is standard etiquette to follow up within two days. Similarly, if you make a commitment to someone, such as sending a link or making an introduction, delivered within two days. Remember to also accept invitations in a timely manner, and send a follow-up thank you.

It’s not all one-way

Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect, though. Offer something of value first, such as a link to a relevant article.

When it comes to networking, the general rule is that you should give more than you take. As my colleague, Yvonne Smyth wrote: “Before you need them, help others get what they want first.”

Be active

Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, like and share updates from your connections, and join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in certain areas, start your own LinkedIn blog.

Be genuine, insightful and authentic; show interest in others; ask questions, and be respectful of people’s time. But don’t over-post, otherwise, your communications could be too diluted.

Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented in person. Take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and joining an association or professional group.

With these online networking etiquette tips, you’re ready to build and leverage your connections in a thoughtful, effective and professional manner.

Jane McNeill is managing director of both New South Wales and Western Australia at Hays Recruitment.

A version of this article previously appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blogBy Jane McNeill

Categorized in Science & Tech

What you will be doing.  Companies need the latest business statistics on different companies and markets that they have a stake in.  They need to know about the competition and how to better manage their enterprises.  The one thing they don’t have is the time or resources to do it themselves

As a freelance Internet researcher, you will be the one who digs and finds this information for the companies in question. You also put this information into usable formats for the company.   

How to start Research can be done for any company in any field.  If you choose one niche, you will learn over time which search engines yield the most promising information.  You can create a database of sites and the types of information that can be gotten from them.   

Establish yourself by taking freelance jobs as an Internet researcher.  To gain the experience and a reputation, you may have to take assignments in various fields.  Sites like Elance hire professionals like you to help clients with their information gathering. 

Starting costs.  Since you will be working on the Internet as your primary source of information, you will need a computer that can handle the load.  The computer needs all of the latest software for report writing, spreadsheets, presentations, and any other format in which the client may want to receive the information that you’ve found. 

Your home office should be comfortable and functional.  It needs to have a telephone, fax machine, copier, laser printer, and a comfy chair.  You also need money for advertising materials to get your name out there.  Look to spend around $2,000. 

Skills needed.  You need to like research and be good at assessing the value of information at a glance.  A good researcher uses well worn paths to find their information.  Some researchers get bogged down in too much information and have a tough time sorting it all out.  With each new project, you will learn to only chase down leads that are relevant to the specifics of the assignment and throw the others out.  

Related items... 

MarketingNetworking is important here.  Concentrate on the area where you want to concentrate your research.  Use business associations to develop a list of contacts for mass mailings.  Highlight your area of expertise and list some past work. 

Start your own website to attract customers.  Advertise on as many sites and forums as you can.  Offer discounts for the first research project to gain a client’s trust and the promise of future business. 

Research can be an interesting business.  You uncover bits of information that could mean good news for your clients.  Pretty soon, you’ll be able to find anything for anyone. 

Source: This article was published internetbasedmoms.com

Categorized in Online Research

This article is courtesy of BusinessCollective, featuring thought leadership content by ambitious young entrepreneurs, executives & small business owners.

Creating a great marketing strategy is like baking a pie — you don’t want to leave out the most important ingredients.

For many small business owners, taking time off isn’t just a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It’s also a chance to take a step back from day-to-day business operations and look at the parts of their business that they appreciate as well as what needs to be addressed.

When it comes to marketing, a lot of businesses make the mistake of leaving it to the end of their budgets and business plans — just like pie is left for dessert — when in actuality, it greatly affects that potential for success.

When you take a look at your own marketing pie, these eight pieces are integral in creating success. Each one on their own is great, but when you put them all together, the results will expand your bottom line immensely.

Web Presence

Your website is your first marketing opportunity for new customers. Make sure your website is attractive, presents what you do and who you are, and provides social proof of success. Your online presence, branding and marketing materials are a great place to start in  building your marketing message and attracting clients.

Customer Relationships

This is the most active and important piece of your pie. Keeping your current customers happy and engaged with you and your business is the most profitable area of marketing. Happy customers stay loyal and also bring new customers. Continually finding ways to bring value and service to your existing customers in unique and personal ways will always be good for business. Customer success is quickly becoming the epicenter of the marketing department.

Social Media

Stay active with your community — even if it’s just an image or a quick update. Social media presence is now becoming the indicator of life in a business. People do business with people, and social media is the number one place where people are interacting. Keeping content fresh on your social media profiles indicates an active online presence. It also becomes a place for quick customer support, and if comments and requests are missed, it can look poorly on your business reputation.

Content Creation

Creating content that is valuable to your users not only builds engagement and loyalty but also helps build your website value to search engines and will increase your organic traffic as you increase in your search engine ranking. If you’re looking for a long-term marketing effort that pays big dividends for your business, informative content is a great investment.

Joint Ventures and Partnerships

This is often overlooked but is one of the best-known secrets of small business marketing. Finding joint venture partners who service the same target market can help you promote your services to additional customers and provide better service. Seek events and partnerships with businesses that are non-competing and align with your company values. Expand your reach with either joint promotions or events.

Affiliates and Brand Ambassadors

Reward your raving fans and referrers. Incentivize your customers and online influencers to mention you and share your business. More than ever, purchasers are depending on reviews, referrals and social influence to make buying decisions. Once you’ve taken the time to set up an affiliate or referral system, your circle of influence can grow beyond your specific reach. This is a great way to reach new markets and reward fans which end up costing a lot less than investing in advertising and sales.

Speaking Events and Local Outreach

Small business still depends on a lot of exposure. There is no better way to create impact with the exposure of speaking events. Share your expertise, customer focus, and mission statement from a stage and you instantly show credibility and personal connection. Get over your fear of public speaking and discover the marketing power of sharing your own voice on a stage.

Networking

Never stop networking! To stay in business, you always need to keep building and working on it. Networking is the continual practice of making new relationships and maintaining the ones you have. Your presence at events and conferences with potential customers, employees and partners matters and may not pay off right away, but over time, you reaffirm your consistency in business and your commitment to growing relationships and community.

Just like pie, marketing takes effort, ingredients, and time to create the final results. The great part is, when you add it all together, nothing beats the smell of sweet success.

Arash Asli is the cofounder and CEO of Yocale, an online scheduling and marketing platform for small businesses.

Source : http://tech.co/essentials-great-marketing-strategy-2016-12

Networking is inevitable in any business. As marketing is a very huge and dynamic industry, there will always be collaborations, and partnerships between brands, and engagement with customers, thus the need for networking.

An infographic from Virgin shows 85% of the respondents say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences

As the name connotes, business networking is defined as a skill that is used to build new business contacts through connecting with other like-minded individuals.

Why is Networking Important?

Networking Opens Opportunities

Venturing out of your comfort zone enables you to explore more opportunities. Partnership with other like-minded companies or individuals who share the same vision and business goals are good results of networking. Not only that, it will open doors for collaborations, sales leads, joint ventures, speaking gigs, or writing opportunities you would have access to.

Networking Builds Your Confidence

Breaking the ice and striking up a conversation with people you don’t know tests your limits. You have to come up with creative ways to start a conversation and sustaining and probing your prospects well enough to know what types of business and tools they are looking for. In doing so, you boost your confidence level, which makes your next networking attempt even easier.

Networking is a Great for Learning

More often than not, networking sessions happen during conferences and industry events. These are great opportunities to update yourself not only from the conference presentations but also from industry people who practice their profession.

You can learn their best practices and find out how they were able to overcome challenges, which might be relevant to where you are in the business cycle. You can always learn something new in networking.

Listen to the recent Marketing Nerds episode by Debbie Miller of Social Hospitality, Amanda Russell of Ghergich & Co., and SEJ Executive Editor Kelsey Jones as they discuss experiences with networking and how to meet new people.

How Should You Network?

Be the Best Representative of Your Company

First and foremost, know that networking is often a face-to-face interaction and it may be the first impression people have of our brand. You should always keep your company’s best interest in mind. After all, we personify our companies. We are the human representations of what it does and what it offers.

After a huge conference or event, you might remember the company name or the brand, instead of the name of the person you spoke with. So come prepared, dress well, and carry yourself with confidence.

Keep the Right Mindset

What is your true motivation for networking? Whatever it is, the people you speak with will be able to tell. If your main goal is to make a sale, it is not conducive to building a real relationship. You will come across as spammy and insincere.

Show genuine interest in your potential business partner – pay attention to what they say, what they need, and what they do best. If you have a hard time coming up with a conversation starter, ask them about their company, and what their role is. Most people like to talk about themselves. So, ask open-ended questions to start conversations. More importantly, listen to what they say. Focus on them. Great networkers are those who listen more and talk less.

networking

Build Relationships

Go into a conversation with the goal of establishing a long-term partnership, and not just making a quick sale. Lasting relationships are mutually beneficial partnerships.

Some successful networkers even go as far as doing research work before networking. If they know that the person they want to meet is interested in golf, for example, they would invite them and play a round of golf. Or if they are interested in having drinks, they’d invite them to have drinks after the event.

Follow-Up

If you meet someone who has business needs your company can solve, follow-up immediately. Don’t wait to send feelers four weeks after. They might not remember you at all. Best to send an email immediately upon return to office the next day. Just remember to be personable and focus on how you can help, not what you have to sell.

Tools for Business Networking

Business Cards

Business cards will be your main weapon in increasing your business network. In fact, 55% of Americans who own a small business typically distribute business cards at conferences. When you attend a conference with thousands of attendees, be sure to bring at least two packs of your business cards to give away. This is a valuable tool for your networking success. When receiving a card, do not just simply put it in your pocket. Take a moment to read what is written on the card. Not only will it enable you to ask smart and valuable questions, but it also shows respect to your potential lead.

One other tool you can take advantage of is Camcard. It is a business card app that allows you to scan, manage, sync and exchange business cards all in one place. You can quickly enter business cards, or exchange business cards digitally. One good thing about this tool is you can access your business contacts anywhere.

You can also digitize your business card through a tool called About.me. This app shows what your main interest or business is. You can show your portfolio, images, videos, blogs, music, or your business information. It is like your address online.

LinkedIn Profile

Create a LinkedIn profile if you still do not have one. If you have an existing LinkedIn profile already, make sure it is updated with your newest job title, most recent published works, and newest collaborations.

After a conference, most business contacts will check out your business card, and look you up on LinkedIn to see your credentials, your background, and all other information about you. LinkedIn is the ultimate social media channel for business professionals, so if you want to be taken seriously, make sure that you have one.

Use Twitter

Whenever you are at a business conference, intensify your social media postings on Twitter. Most conferences have a customized hashtag, and attendees use this to post relevant takeaways. Not only will live conference coverage give your followers real-time updates of the conference, but this method proves to be a very effective way of communicating with the speakers, the organizers, and other event attendees, without the awkwardness of face-to-face communication. Take advantage of this channel to join virtual conversations. This might score you an invite to an awesome after-conference party.

Final Thoughts

You can become successful in business networking by planning and focusing more on other people rather than worrying about what you are going to say. There are many ways to strategically represent yourself, and your company, but these basic tips and tools will help you gain business contacts, and hopefully close deals.

Author:  Meg Cabrera

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Business Research

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