Have your elevator pitch ready, dress for the connections you want, and practice your handshake. You’ve probably heard this advice when it comes to networking for your business. In fact, at times, we put so much emphasis on the above three that we forget the rules are different when we’re networking online for a SaaS (Software as a Service) or e-commerce business.
When you’re networking online, having an elevator pitch ready might mean ensuring your website is up-to-date; dressing for the connections you want may mean your social media profiles are consistent; and, practising your handshake could look a bit more like getting the right endorsements from the right sources.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can become better networkers as online business owners.
When we’re trying to make a connection with a business we admire, we might be tempted to go through social media and ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ every post we see. This can be seen as making the first move when it comes to networking, but in actuality, we want to be doing less ‘liking’ and more thoughtful, strategic engaging — that is, we want to start saying ‘hello’.
Reaching out to businesses and saying ‘hello’ first allows you, as an entrepreneur, to break the ice effectively. However, this isn’t the time to give your elevator pitch. Saying hi and initiating conversation simply opens up a dialogue between your business and theirs. Developing a genuine interest in the other business’ operations will allow a more natural connection in the long run.
Many relevant industry groups and organizations have an online counterpart. Even if you aren’t going to in-person meetups, it’s very important to join these groups online and make your presence known. This is a great place to practise your elevator pitch. Business owners in the same industry as you can be great supporters when you’re starting out in e-commerce. Genuinely reaching out and forming these connections in a professional setting will bolster your confidence and give you those first few connections.
This may be the most obvious way to network online, but keeping an up-to-date online profile, including your website and social media, is imperative to successful branding. In an ideal scenario, all your social media handles will be consistent with your website’s address, but if you’re in a position where your handles are all a little different, having the exact same copy and images on your profiles will tie your branding together for new connections and customers. Consistency is a passive way to network online, but it ends up being one of the most important factors in online recognition.
Networking online has its own challenges apart from in-person networking. You can’t always use face value to form a bond with another person, but by following a few simple practices, you can put your best foot forward when presenting yourself and your business to others.
Guest Blogger: Louisa Atto
Louisa is a freelance writer, digital marketing professional, and author. Check out her portfolio here.