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3 Quick and Easy Ways to Network Online that You Probably Don’t Really Use

by Laura Spencer

on March 19, 2013

in Marketing

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Networking is crucial for freelancers. After all, most of your clients are going to come from people that you network with. People are just more comfortable doing business with people who they know.

While most freelancers understand that an online presence is important, many aren’t quite sure how to handle online networking. One thing is for sure, it’s not enough to just have social media accounts or to just have a blog–you have to know how to use those tools to connect with other people. That’s what networking is all about.

In this post, I’ll outline some simple online networking strategies that are easy to use, but are often overlooked. If you like this post you may also like Why Online Friends are Important to Freelancers.

What Online Networking Is Not

A lot of freelancers (and others) think that gathering a huge following on a social media platform is the same thing as networking. In fact, there are even tools to accumulate hundreds (maybe even thousands) of friends/fans/followers–but if you do this most of them will have no idea who you are.

While having a huge number of friends/fans/followers may impress people, those kinds of connections aren’t likely to bring in more freelance business.

Who you really want to connect with is people who are interested in what you do and what you say. And the only way to find those people is to actually interact with them.

Networking Tip #1: Respond to Others

If you’re using social media solely to announce blog posts, you’re missing out on a lot. Sure, it’s okay to share your blog posts through social media, but you should be sharing other people’s material as well. Don’t just stop there, though.

In my opinion, if someone reshares something that you’ve posted it’s only polite to thank them. That thank-you can be the first step in networking. If you say thank-you, you’ll stand out because most people won’t bother.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide when to acknowledge others online. I typically thank people for retweets and reshares (if they’ve copied my name into the share so I can see it), but I don’t usually thank people for +1s on Google+ or for Facebook likes.

Networking Tip #2: Leave Thoughtful Comments

How many times have you read a blog post that really made you think? If you’re like most of us, you probably read a lot of interesting material online.

Let me ask you this–how many times have you left a comment for the author of that interesting blog post after you’ve read it?

Most of us have become so used to getting information online that we no longer stop to discuss what we’ve read or to express our thoughts to the writer. That’s a shame, because one of the easiest ways to network online is through blog comments.

Networking Tip #3: Say Hello

It’s so simple, it’s easy to miss. Networking online is a lot like networking offline. You simply say “hello” and introduce yourself.

Of course, it helps if you have something in common and point that out. It also helps if you know a little bit about the person you’re greeting.

A good place to start is with people who have already followed or circled you. For example, on Google+ you could greet new followers with a friendly message (not an automated message, though) saying that you’re glad they’ve circled you.

The Reality of Networking

The reality is that you aren’t going to be able to network perfectly. There are thousands of interesting blogs online and you may get dozens of new followers to your social media accounts. It’s simply not possible to always respond to every single thing that happens online.

Plus, you might not notice that someone has followed you or has reshared your material. It happens and most people understand.

If a day or two goes by and you run out of time or forget to thank someone, don’t beat yourself up over it. The key is to be generally friendly and to have real interactions with people so that you can get to know each other better.

Your Turn

What are your best online networking tips?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.