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Networking: How does online networking work?

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Follow the basic rules

Successful networking means following four basic rules. Define your goals and what you expect to gain from your contacts. Prioritize quality over quantity when adding contacts to your network. Don’t just pump your contacts for information, you should also reciprocate with information of your own. Keep relationships alive by sending virtual messages so that the contact is maintained.

Put out feelers online

If your network doesn’t have an expert for a particular area of expertise and you need to know something fast, you can put feelers out online. Ask on XING or LinkedIn for help. Perhaps someone in your network knows someone else with the right expertise. Ask them to share your post with their contacts. Alternatively, you can post your question in Facebook orLinkedIn groups.

Look for second tier contacts

You can see your contacts’ contact lists on XING or LinkedIn. Have a look to see if you would like to contact one of these second tier contacts. If there is, you can send a request with a short message mentioning your shared contact. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can ask your shared contact if they can make the introduction for you.

Accept requests

You are bound to have received one or more contact requests on XING or LinkedIn from someone you don’t know. If the person has not written a message, you should write one. Accept their contact request, ask why they sent the request and how it can help you.

Search for information online

When you have an appointment with a customer, an in-person meeting at a trade fair or even just a telephone call back, try searching for the person online beforehand. Check out their XING or LinkedIn profiles and find out where they work and in what position. You can learn about their previous experience and whether you already share any contacts. Use this information in your conversations and complete your impression of them with personal information.

Continue discussions offline

If you only know some of your contacts via online networks, you should take the opportunity to get to know them offline as well. Try to arrange a meeting or find out whether your contact will be taking part at the same trade fair as you so that you can meet there. Remember: Relationships conducted purely online are not as strong as face to face contacts.

Use job search opportunities

As well as looking for job vacancies on XING and LinkedIn, you can advertise your own vacancies. If you have been asked by the HR department to find a suitable candidate, then you can post a job advert on one of the career networks. It is now common for applicants to conduct targeted job searches here. Make some contacts and find the right candidate.

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