Networking forms an invaluable backbone to global business. Not only is it an
essential part of growing your online business, it's a fantastic way to cultivate business relationships globally and widen your market reach to customers beyond your own shores.
There are lots of places
on the internet where you can go to network – forums, message boards, groups and other networks. There are no planes to catch, no need to get dressed up, everything is at your fingertips.
Choose a networking group that's relevant to your line of business, your target audience or your interest.
Post an introduction of yourself when you first join a group. Tell the group something about yourself and your business. Better yet, tell them something unique and interesting to increase the
likelihood of them remembering you or your business. Remember in online networking, people only have your name, they don't have a face to go with it. Sometimes several members may have the same first
name or a similar on to yours, so try to set yourself apart.
Keep your introduction short, simple and interesting. Never launch into a sales pitch right away as this tends to turn people off.
Oftentimes, we're so excited about sharing our business we forget that networking is about establishing relationships first and making sales later.
Greet new members when they post an introduction of
themselves. A short welcome note with a brief introduction of yourself would be both a nice touch and an excellent public relations move on your part. Remember you never know if or when a member of the
group could turn out to be your loyal customer or your biggest strategic alliance in business.
Read the rules of the group carefully. Every group has its own set of rules. Some allow you to post ads,
others are discussion-only. Some have designated days of the week for different topics. Always play by the rules of the group. Make a note of which day is designated for what in which group. Stick to
them and it will earn you the respect of the group owner, moderators and members.
Join in the conversations or threads. Don't be a lurker. Well, obviously there are some very good reasons why you
joined the group – to learn, share, establish business contacts – and these are reason enough to post. If you stay in hiding, nobody knows you're there and certainly nobody knows what your business has
Offer help and advice whenever you can. If someone asks for help or advice, offer it in any way you can. Networking is about give and take. Help someone now and win help for yourself when
you're in need. Share and be helpful – it's a win-win situation.
Leave your cultural, racial and personal biases outside the networking door. Many networking groups have international memberships. Be
respectful of others' cultures, ideas and opinions, no matter how strange they may sound to you. Making an effort to be courteous and supportive can go a long way in a business relationship.
language clear and simple. It's very possible that some people in your group may only have a basic working knowledge of English. After all, the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English make up
only about 7% of the world's population. Even among those who speak English, language can easily be misunderstood. So clarity and a willingness to rephrase and simplify language are to being understood
in global business communication.
Be interested in what goes on in the group. After all, you did choose this group. Whether it's taking the trouble to learn another member's culture, or explaining
something peculiar to your industry or country, consider it part of the education that goes with global business.
Don't discount an idea or an opinion because it comes from another culture or country.
In other words, don't be too quick to pre-judge. There is no right or wrong, just a different approach to doing things. Ideas and opinions that appear to be 'just a little too far-flung' may well spark
off a creative business idea that's never even crossed your mind. Now wouldn't that be priceless!
Stay neutral. Where two or more members have a difference in opinion, it's best not to get involved.
In this case, silence is indeed golden. Be diplomatic. Understand that people do have bad days. Most times, all they need is a little space and time, and they'll come around.
Stay active to stay
visible. Be heard to be remembered. In larger groups, it's easy to slip into oblivion if you don't keep up. Networking can be a time-consuming activity. Schedule your business day accordingly.
Have fun. Yes, even netpreneurs are allowed to have fun. If you have fun with your business, it will feel less like work and more like a hobby, a profitable hobby. So get out there, make some friends,
have a few laughs and benefit your business at the same time.
Copyright 2005 Kit Lum. All rights in all media reserved.