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Taking Professional Networking to New Heights

Taking Professional Networking to New Heights

If you've been in business for a while, you've probably mastered the art of professional networking by now or at least come close. Maybe you attend chamber of commerce and industry events. You’ve got your “elevator pitch” down describing who you are and what you do. You carry a fresh stack of business cards at the ready wherever you go.

Turning to the usual networking tactics may work, however, the creativity and can-do spirit that you bring to your business can also be applied to building your network in new ways. With that in mind, here are some tactics to take your professional networking above and beyond the basics.

Get a handle on your Internet presence.

What comes up when you search your own name on Google? The more results you yield, the more "visible" you are on the Internet. Make note of the descriptions related to your name or your company name in search results.

Come up with a handful of key words and phrases that encapsulate who you are and what you do. Use those words in your social network and other online bios for consistency. Other ways you can increase the appearance of your name in search results include:

  1. Setting up a professional website for yourself - and remember to optimize it for search engines (SEO).
  2. Setting up accounts on popular social networks that get good Google pickup including Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, even SlideShare.
  3. Writing articles for websites and blogs geared toward your target audience.
  4. Getting profiled by the media, especially online media.

Increasing your visibility gives you more opportunities to be seen by others online and participating in social networks helps you expand your connections.

Share your expertise.

You've gained an incredible amount of knowledge as you've worked to get your business off the ground. That knowledge can be valuable to others including aspiring entrepreneurs.

Consider sharing what you’ve learned to showcase your expertise and to get your name out there. Share what you know by:

  1. Speaking at industry conferences or other conferences that reach your target market.
  2. Writing about your experiences for a magazine, website or blog.
  3. Starting a blog that covers issues relevant to your business and experiences.
  4. Publishing ebooks and digital white papers.
  5. Offering online courses and webinars.

People search out experts in their areas of interest. Positioning yourself as an authority can help you build both your profile and your network.

Empower your team to network.

You're the boss, and you're responsible for bringing in business and fostering relationships. But you don't have to do it alone. When your employees make connections on behalf of your company, everyone wins. Capitalize on your employees' networking potential by:

  1. Sending a trusted employee to represent you at an event when you can't attend.
  2. Sponsor your employees’ memberships in trade organizations and community organizations.
  3. Offer opportunities to attend webinars and classes.
  4. Provide clear guidelines for employees to interact in social networks as a representative of your company.

Your team has the potential to expand your company's network even further if you give them permission, opportunity and proper training.

Other networking ideas

If you still feel you or your team is falling short with your professional networking efforts, here are a few more tactics that can give you a jump start:

  1. Consider hiring a networking coach or consultant to help you maximize your networking capabilities.
  2. Join and participate in online forums. Look for ways to genuinely contribute to online communities.
  3. Start your own networking group using online platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook Groups.

The key to networking success is to remember that everything you do in public and online is an opportunity to present yourself in a way that shows others why they should be doing business with you.

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