Networking is one of the most effective ways to build business partnerships, establish your brand, recruit employees and stay up-to-date with industry trends. With the growth of the internet and social networking sites, the opportunity to network has never been greater.
Gone are the days where business networking is limited to face-to-face interactions. Over the years, networking has become much more flexible and dynamic than simply entering a room and exchanging business cards. Networking now takes place in person, over the phone, through e-mail and internet chat, on social media web-sites and even through text messaging. With all of these networking options, it is important to understand which methods will yield the best results and achieve your organizational goals.
One of the increasingly popular networking methods is through social media web-sites and forums. As many employers already know, platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are among the top websites used for online networking.
Online networking has numerous draws including the ability to network with a variety of individuals in a short span of time, the opportunity to build relationships with individuals and organizations in other cities and the low-cost associated with networking from the comfort of your home or office.
An increasing number of contemporary organizations across the globe are beginning to harness the connective power of online social networks for the following three reasons:
1) Build Business Partnerships & Establish Your Brand
Asserting an online presence is a cost-effective way to form strategic partnerships with other members of your online communities. By becoming an active social member, you can spread your brand's influence and educate others on what your organization offers.
By consistently posting original, relevant content, you can also establish credibility and demonstrate what your organization brings to the table. For smaller environmental organizations, this is a great, cost-effective way to promote your company and differentiate yourself from some of your larger competitors.
2) Recruit Qualified Candidates
The world of recruiting is changing. An increasing amount of online recruiting focus is resting on smaller, more specialized job boards and on social networking sites.
According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which surveyed over 97,000 people in 30 countries, including over 4,000 in Canada, "24% of job seekers are using social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to search for job openings or promotions," and this number is growing.
Using online networking sites allow you to develop relationships with potential candidates long before you need them. Establishing an online presence via social media sites allows you to interact with potential employees and establish your organization as a desirable place to work. LinkedIn, the more popular choice among the corporate crowd, allows individuals to follow organizations of interest, making it easier for followers to see when your organization has an opening.
Utilizing online networking sites also allows you to scope out potential employees who aren't necessarily currently seeking employment opportunities. It is also a great way to check references or the work of current prospects.
3) Stay Current & Offer Value
Becoming a member of an online community allows you to stay current with industry trends, benchmark your organizational practices, and where appropriate, put principles into practice.
It's also a great way to take advantage of the expertise of other individuals and organizations that are members of your online communities. Interacting with other users is an excellent way to spark conversation and pose specific questions, giving you access to a breadth of information.
Posting relevant and interesting information also helps establish your organization as a credible, go-to source for people looking to have their questions answered. By repeatedly sharing information, you are asserting yourself and your company as a source of knowledgeable and reliable information, which can lead to key business opportunities further down the road.
Does your organization take full advantage of the online networking options available today? Do you believe face-to face networking is more effective? We would love to hear from you!