3 Tips for Effective Online Networking

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Lead generation, staying up-to-date on technology and building partnerships: it’s the life of the ISV. Where’s the time for actual development? Networking online, when done strategically can generate more leads, improve your technical skills and make way for more-efficient partnerships. It will require some time initially, but once you’ve established your resources, living the life of the ISV will leave plenty of time to do the work of development.

Be the Detective: Find Customers
Finding customers using social media can require some time and detective skills, so approach it strategically. To find pockets of customers, have a look at the social media accounts of your competitors. Follow the people who your competitors are following and note any industry-specific hashtags they’re using and topics they’re writing about.

Use the search capabilities of the social media channels to find conversations about your industry’s topics. There may be a potential client asking a question you can easily answer. This is the first step to developing that lead.

Check in with your industry’s organizing group for its social media recommendations. For example, those who write enterprise software for healthcare would find many excellent social media resources at HIMSS, the healthcare information and management systems society, including its “Twitter Cheat,” which lists many influential Twitter handles, and hashtags for the industry.

This theory says that we’re all separated by just six degrees. Discover who you’re connected to by mapping out the interconnections between everyone you know. This exercise can help you meet important contacts and identify your current contacts. LinkedIn and Facebook have an automated version of this in their sidebars with the “People You May Know” features. This extra bit of research might lead to additional clients.

Improve Your Technical Skills
It’s important to dedicate some time to developing your technical skills. Your ability to stay on top of shifts in your industry invariably results in greater success for you in the marketplace.

Professional online webinars and podcasts are a great place to start. You can access them quickly and easily from your home computer, tablet or mobile phone. Many of them take busy schedules into consideration. In many cases, it’s easy to pick up business tips or learn about the latest social media tool in less than ten minutes. Next, find a conference or weekend workshop in your area. These types of events provide you with the latest information on tools and information that directly help your business. Plus, they can turn into opportunities for networking.

Search for Business Partners
Bridge the divide between your offline and online presence by cultivating connections in person. You can visit the Meetup site to locate meetings that bring together likeminded folks to discuss business tactics that might interest you. If you are looking for a similar presence online, your best bet is to find those partners through GoogleGroups or by developing a personal blog. Launching and regularly maintaining a blog is a terrific way to broadcast your voice and opinions, highlighting your position as a recognized resource and authority in this industry.

Effective business networking is achievable by establishing and sticking with your goals, and taking the necessary time and patience to achieve them. By engaging with current social media tools, building your online presence and establishing invaluable relationships, you become a better networker. Building bridges can’t happen overnight but will ensure years of success to come.
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