How to build an online business network

Group of people

 

It's not what you know; it's who you know. This old adage is just as true on the internet, where building up your network is vital to helping you make a splash with your business online.

We asked networking whizz and founder of Networking Mummies and Educate Business, Laura Morris for her rundown on how to build your business network online.


Content supplied by Barclays
 


Community

Working with groups across the UK through our company Networking Mummies UK Ltd, it is amazing to see people joining forces online to create amazing business relationships. By building an online network you really can build your business and support others who are in the same boat as you. We have found that there is a real community feel and people are willing to help each other out by advertising each other and more – maybe by recommending them to their network or linking to them on their websites and blogs.
 

Pitching online

Approaching someone online is just like meeting someone in real life – just remember your '60-second pitch' – if that's all the time you had to sell your business, what would you say? – and use this in the same way. As you would in real life the key is to get to know the person individually.

Start local

Search for local businesses to start with and build that network before moving on nationally. Find people, find out if they enjoy networking and meeting new people, ask questions and find out about the person behind the business. It is good to ask what they are looking to get out of online networking and is there any help they feel they need? Find out how you can maybe help each other out.
 

Use social media

It is easy to find businesses and other people in your area using Facebook and Twitter, and you will then find that they will know someone and your network online starts growing. Facebook groups are great, as they can be kept active by participants promoting each other, referring others when they can and adding other people to the group who we think might be interested to grow the members. Look out for more business-focused channels, as well, such as LinkedIn or those linked to organisations like Barclays Connector.

 

Build relationships

Some people use an online network just to sell, sell and sell and that is a big no no. One of the biggest things you need to do with an online network is build relationships with people first. I see a lot of pure advertising going on and no actual interaction and this is most people's downfall with it. Make sure that when promoting your business online that you include interaction. You should have a mixture of posts and questions and not all sales-related as it can look desperate. Ask questions and join in with other conversations that you can relate to.

Meetings

Having a big online network is great, but meeting face to face can be really beneficial. We encourage setting up monthly networking meetings which let people meet in person, which can make their online network together stronger. We feel it is important to do both.

Involvement

Be consistently involved with the network and keep interacting. Introduce new people and ensure those in it still want to be part of it.

 

Three key ingredients for a successful online business network:

  1. Interaction
  2. Showing the person behind the business
  3. building meaningful relationships

 

Laura's top networking tips:

  • Don't be shy and let people see who you are
  • Make sure you have a good 60-second pitch
  • Be confident when talking about your business
  • Talk, even if you think you have no synergy, you never know who you are speaking too
  • Interact and ask questions

Make sure your website and social media are up to scratch and ready for your network, throughout the Online Business Fortnight.
 

Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

 

 

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Last updated: 27-Jan-2014 at 4:37 PM