7 Tips to Networking Online for Shy People

For many introverted or shy people seeking jobs, or even entrepreneurs looking to gain new clients to grow their business, networking can be one of the most nerve-wracking activities. Introducing oneself to complete strangers and starting a conversation in order to get people interested in a product or a service isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

The good news is that email and social media have made touching base with people easier than ever, particularly for introverts. For one thing, it doesn’t involve an awkward face-to-face conversation. Neither does it involve facing a big room full of people.

Eventually though, if you’re one of these shy types, you’ll have to accept the likelihood that these exchanges online will inevitably lead to some lunch or dinner meeting, or job interviews, if you’re in the market for a job. Therefore, it is always good to be prepared for either type of encounter when working out your networking plans and strategies.

Eating an Elephant

There’s an old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The problem most people have with networking is that it can be a bit overwhelming. Why? Because they try to “eat the whole elephant” in one bite.

In other words, you are going out to network with the goal of making a sale, landing a job, getting the deal. It’s a daunting goal for what is essentially a cold meeting. To be successful, you must accomplish many steps leading up to the goal. You have to dress right, make a good first impression, say the right things, and hope it all goes as planned, because your future is on the line. It can be a lot to swallow.

By breaking down the process into steps, or bite-sized pieces, the task can become a lot easier to digest. This is actually the secret to successful networking. One easy way to do this is to focus on the first step of the process, rather than focusing on your end-goal. This can take a lot of pressure off and make it that much easier to get the ball rolling.

The First Step of Networking

The first step of the process is actually as simple as finding and meeting the people with whom you want to network. That, and a simple introduction, are the beginning steps of networking.

But thanks to the internet, even the first step can be made infinitely easier. Whereas even the first step of making a contact and introduction can still be a bit intimidating when networking in person, this step can be made almost completely stress-free online.

There are many places you can network online and this is not meant to be an exhaustive guide to finding groups. Rather, it is designed to be an introduction to networking online, which is applicable to virtually any online group.

Online Networking Tips for Introverted Individuals

If you’re into expanding your professional circle of contacts and aiming to get rid of your shyness and build self-confidence, here’s what you can do:

1) Join an industry group. You’ll find it’s a lot easier getting involved with like-minded people or professional contacts. No matter what business or industry you’re engaged in, there is sure to be an online group. Join it. It might be a Facebook group, LinkedIn group, forum or Reddit. Spend some time reading past posts and keeping up to date on current posts. Once you are familiar with how group members interact, introduce yourself and join the conversation.

2) Know the rules and guidelines. Part of being shy is the awkwardness of not knowing how to act in a given social situation. Social networking online gives you this information easily. Look for posted rules and guidelines. Use them so you’ll have confidence knowing what to do and what not to do. If you have any questions on proper group etiquette, just message the group moderator and ask.

3) Interact. No matter who or what you are, you’ve got something to share… knowledge and insights people might be interested in. So respond to questions and make comments on posts. Sometimes, even a simple LOL reaction to a joke will show your brand of humor. Be polite not obnoxious and stay on topic. As you post something, proofread it and make sure your grammar’s OK and that your sentences make sense. Unlike in real life, you’ve got the advantage here of correcting yourself before you say anything that might be embarrassing or make someone uncomfortable.

4) Contribute. Nobody likes a leech. Don’t just lurk, passively consuming everyone else’s contributions. Or, worse yet, don’t spam the group with promotional posts. Your opportunity to self-promote will come to you once you’ve earned it. Instead, take on a genuine attitude to help and contribute value to the group. This isn’t so hard. There are things you know that others don’t. Maybe it’s just a new app you found useful and relevant to that group. Maybe it’s a way you found to do things that worked for you. Or maybe it’s just answering another group member’s question. Contributing generously to a group can establish you as an authority within the group and soon other members will begin to seek you out.

5) Work out an interesting social profile and let it do the talking. If you’re uncomfortable about making the first move in networking, then make it easy for potential contacts and prospects or recruiters to find you. Use Twitter. Share your passion for work. Consider LinkedIn as well to show your skills and special talents. Put out relevant information for people to find. Then find individuals and groups you want to share your information with and join and follow them. You’ll start to get followers back and that means a wider audience seeing, and possibly even sharing, your message.

6) Set simple realistic goals for yourself. Networking works best when done consistently and gradually. It can have somewhat of an organic nature, taking on a life of its own when done correctly. Setting unrealistic goals will more than likely make you give up on the whole endeavor. But do set a goal and track your weekly results. Start with whatever seems easy. Maybe that’s just making a few new contacts per week. You can always ramp it up later. But be consistent in your efforts. It pays off handsomely over time.

7) Don’t forget the follow-up. Once you’ve made some contacts, don’t just forget about them while looking for more new contacts. Each contact made should be developed and treated as valuable (which it is). Send a follow-up email or message saying it was great meeting and getting to know them and you would love staying in touch or even meeting up in the future. Again, the keynote is to have the desire to help and bring value to your new contacts. Set goals (and also a schedule) to do follow-up. It’s just as important as making new contacts, if not more so.

Once you have the hang of networking online, you may find that your attitude and ability towards offline networking has significantly improved as well. Look at how you can apply the online networking skills to offline networking. Even in everyday situations you might have some great networking opportunities. Just casually socialize with colleagues around the office or treat a different co-worker (or colleague if you’re a business owner) to lunch every week or two. This will help enhance your networking skills and… who knows… maybe even open a few doors for your career or business.

How Important Is Networking to Your Career

There are many constructive and fulfilling opportunities and outcomes in a successful career as a financial advisor. With the proper education and certification, there are a couple of pathways from which a person can choose. For example, an ambitious newcomer can get in on the ground floor at an established agency and take the road more travelled, building a clientele and climbing the corporate ladder over the years. Another choice would be deciding to hang out his or her shingle and take the leap into establishing their own business. Either way, it’s important to remember that while finance may naturally seem to be a business of and about money, it’s really a business of and about people. The people you come to know, work with and serve over the span of your career will mean the difference between fulfillment and success or mediocrity and failure.

One of the most important things you can get from your college career, other than the overall experience and the degree itself, of course, is the group of friends and peers that you develop in your time there. For many people these groups become the core of the budding social and professional networks that they will continue to develop throughout their lives. For a business that is heavily dependent upon trust, and the referrals that follow out of that trust, these early relationships and those that grow out of them in turn can become the foundation of a fruitful career. Each person you meet is an opportunity to serve. And if that person doesn’t need your services at the time, they will know someone who does. But, unless a mutual trust has been established, they won’t give you the opportunity to connect with someone they know unless they can be certain that you will reflect well upon them as the referrer.

Any successful career is a marathon, not a sprint, and that marathon begins with finding the right teacher, coach, or mentor. Your mentor not only will commit his or her years of experience and training to your development but, over time, they will also introduce and expose you to their own carefully-cultivated network of clients, peers and friends. In this way, the torch is passed as each professional generation serves as a bridge between those who went before and those who follow.

As you develop your career and grow your own networks, you will, in time, become a leader and mentor in your own right, contributing to the community, guiding and training the next generation, and leading others on the way to their own successes. Your career will not be so much a testament to your financial acumen as it will be to your capacity to bring people together and your desire and ability to help them achieve their goals.

Networking is an important and integral factor in the success of many professional careers and it is particularly important to a successful financial advisory career. This business is first and foremost a service business built on relationships; few products or services invoke a more personal reaction than those associated with food or money. Financial careers are very much pay-for-performance fields and, like compound interest, their success over time will largely depend upon how much you invest in cultivating relationships in the hours and years at the beginning of your career.

The Networking Newsletter

Networking does not necessarily have to be face to face to make strong and meaningful connections. There are benefits and advantages to building relationships and doing business via online. One good example is through newsletters and marketing. Being able to reach your networks with relevant and useful information can strengthen your networks and enhance your goals and objectives.

Listed below are helpful tips for engaging your online networking community through various publications.

Good Timing

As you decide how to plan your newsletters to your networks, be conscious of the timing of your publication. Consider the day of the week which is best for receipt as well as the time of day. Also, think about holidays and events which may compliment the info in the newsletters. Be aware of travel times, vacations and holidays in which there may be a delay in opening messages.

Good Content

Make sure that the content in your publications is news worthy. Share info about upcoming networking events, organizations which may be hiring or seeking talent. Give tips or good info for empowering your readers in their careers, education or personal lives. They should be able to clearly understand the content and want to read it frequently.

Good Connections

Allow your readers to further connect through the publication. Enable them to leave feedback or responses to questions or comments. They should also be able to follow you on social media and post info to their network. This is an excellent way to engage your online community and continue to add value.

Hopefully these tips can guide you along your path for creating valuable connections via online. Being intentional about the timing, content and engagement of your readers only adds to your success.

5 Things You Need to Know

Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you do or how you do it, it’s just not good enough, or not what people want? Maybe you just aren’t looking in the right place? If so, I’d say you need to network, get out there, tell people what you’re all about and how you can help them. Begin to network locally and then move further a field. Tell them what you have to offer and how it will benefit them, but don’t go heavy on the big sell. The idea of networking is to spread the word and build links.

The world it seems isn’t interested in people who want something from it. The world isn’t interested in whether you really wanted that job or not, or why you can’t get ahead in the business world, or why everyone else but you seems to be lucky! The truth is? The world isn’t interested in takers, it’s interested in givers, people with passion, dedication and excitement. People who are willing to give rather than to take.

I learnt a valuable lesson from a friend of mine when I was younger. ‘Stop wanting and start giving’. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. What was the point in life if you wanted nothing and gave everything? At some point, you’d become financially and emotionally bankrupt and in my eyes that wasn’t the answer to a great life.

But that’s not what my friend meant. As we travelled down the path of life together for just for a few years, I came to understand what he meant. Life is about service and in the giving to others. Not in the taking from others or the ‘not caring about others’. To understand what people are really like and what they want we need to network.

So many of us are caught up in the rat race of materialism, so much so that we are unable to see what is important and we look down on those who have no see-able wealth.

Wealth isn’t about money, or status it’s about what you give and become as a person. If you give your whole and expect nothing in return everything you’ve ever wanted will come your way… eventually. And Business is no different. A valuable tip on how to become successful at networking is to be who you really are in business as in life and use every chance meeting as an opportunity to network. Don’t fake it.

I’m not one of those people that subscribe to fake it until you make it. I’m one of those people who says, ‘Show me’? Business likes those people who say show me? Tell me? Give it to me! Business likes those people who are successful, those people who never give up. Business likes those people who are genuine, who are givers, who are social, visible and those who help others. The easiest way to help others is to build links, who network and to help others in the process of helping yourself.

Those people, who build productive links, are not scared of letting go of control, of letting go of information, or of someone else steeling their ideas. Link builders build valuable networks and strong working relationships with other like-minded people and organisations. Business Networking is the way new business grows their business fast. Whether it is through the help of virtual assistants, life coaches, accountants or other business support organisations, building links costs nothing and aids the growth of more than one business.

Business networking is invaluable in starting and growing a business and is probably the most cost effective way of marketing. It’s a good way to build contacts and to gain loyal customers. Again, it’s also the perfect opportunity for you to create opportunities for others too.

Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach. It’s a way for you to make you, and who you know work for you.

The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. As long as you have an ounce of sense and a large vat of courage you’ll do well. Five of the top tips for building strong business networks are set out below:

Attend Industry Meetings – Often

You might be surprised to know that face-to-face meetings still go on. Yes, in every neighbourhood and every industry. Participating in meetings, conferences, and tradeshows is a great way to build strong relationships within your industry. Why not join your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Link and attend their meetings, to catch up with industry developments and build new contacts. Why not look for other ways to increase your visibility within your business community and on a wider basis. Sponsor community activities; get seen doing the right things in the right places by the right people. Show people you care, don’t sit back and wait for business to come your way, because it may not.

Seek Referrals – Always

Nervous? Then start off small. You have at least one or two customers who love your service or product? Ask them to refer a friend who would love your service or product. Sounds cheeky but it’s really not. Ask them to recommend people, take their details and offer a reward for the referral. Your customers almost certainly know colleagues like themselves who need your product or service. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a referral and request permission to use their name as an introduction. Once your potential customer hears their friend’s name, you will have a much better chance of gaining their business.

Testimonials – Ask and Yee shall receive

Remember those customers who loved your product or service? The ones that gave you a referral? Ask them for a testimonial of your product or service as well. Your customers are your most important supporters. They will more than likely agree as they want you and your business to succeed, mainly because it reinforces their decision to use your product or service. Once you’ve secured the testimonial, post it on your website, on the back of your business cards, flyers, Facebook page and even Twitter. Anywhere you can get information published, publish it. Just make sure it’s a free avenue. You should also publish on other people’s sites to gain further coverage. Post on sites that would be interested in promoting your products. It’s not a difficult task it just needs a little bit of courage and a lot of cheek.

Blog – At least once a month

If you don’t already have one create one and quick. Everyone has one and for good reason too. Publishing a personal blog on your company website is a great way for your customers to get to know you, your business, your products and services. Blogs also allow comments which enables interaction. You can create new relationships and grow your business network this way too. Your Blog is a place where you can share stories that validate your expertise or position on a controversial topic. Plus it will generate traffic to your site if it has the right title and contains the right info i.e. Keywords. Search engines now identify keywords in blogs which should, if you have the right keywords generate traffic to your site. Woo hoo.

Be nice – I mean Social

You can grow your business network by using social media sites and apps, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For business opportunities LinkedIn is by far the best media site. Before you jump into social media, you need to fully understand the medium, how it works, and how you can use it to benefit your business. LinkedIn is a great place to start and grow your business network. Twitter is a microblogging site that will complement your blog. You can even start up a Paperli newspaper from your Twitter feeds with no effort at all and send it to your subscribers.

Using a combination of dedication, commitment, tried-and-tested business development tactics along with new social media strategies, your business network will grow, as will your company. Take time out to learn how to build global links and how to market your product or service.

Top Professional Organizations for Construction Managers

Construction Management is an important component in the successful delivery of a development project. As with any other discipline, professional organizations provide an excellent opportunity for growth and networking. These groups offer great opportunities for construction professionals to advance their career forward.

Construction Management Association Of America is the only organization in North American that focuses primarily on promoting the discipline. Chapter meetings focus on best practices and upcoming projects, and educational workshops are offered on a regular basis. CMAA also offers a professional certification program. The Certified Construction Manager designation is earned through a combination of experience and examination, and is recognized throughout the industry as a mark of expertise.

The combination of advocacy, education and certification makes CMAA the premiere organization for Construction Management professionals.

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) – ACEC advocates for the entire industry on a state and national level. Many, if not most, civil engineering firms have a CM arm, so there is great value for Construction Managers in this organization.

Local chapters offer excellent networking and monthly luncheon meetings provide insight into the market and are a great venue for forging and strengthening relationships. The entire spectrum of the industry is represented at ACEC meetings.

Design Build Institute Of America promotes and educates the industry and owners in the best practices for implementation of design build, P3 and IPD. Although many Construction Management professionals struggle to identify their proper role on the construction team, the owner’s representative role is still necessary. The more thoroughly the CM understands the DB process, the more effectively the owner’s interests can be protected.

American Public Works Association (APWA) – Municipal public works departments are represented at the state and national level by the APWA. Membership is open to all industry-related firms.

As budgets tighten and staffs shrink, many municipalities are taking advantage of Construction Managers to act as owner’s representative during the construction of capital projects. APWA is a great organization for networking and learning about issues from the owner’s point of view.

Womens Transportation Seminar (WTS) is an international organization that focuses on regional, and state transportation agencies. Membership is open to the entire A/E/C industry. While the core principles of the organization are to advance women in the transportation industry, men are welcome and comprise a large percentage of the membership.

Many transportation agencies contract the management and oversight of capital project construction to CM firms. WTS is the best venue in which to meet the owners, learn about the projects and form the relationships necessary to win this work.

The Construction Management field is constantly changing and expanding. When you are ready for the next level in your career contact Webuild staffing. They work with a large group of industry leaders who are interested in hiring quality Construction Management professionals.

The Value of Networking to Your Business

As a professional accountant I sometimes struggle with the people side of business. When things are going really well, I tend to neglect networking and marketing of my business. I am someone who can talk business all day long, but when it comes to being personable and building long term relationships with new contacts: I struggle.

As my company has added new products to the lineup, (and since they are right in my office building) I decided to join my local Chamber of Commerce. Of course, the first thing they do is point me in the direction of a get together they are having. Ugh! My experience has not always been positive with the coffees and social hours, but am keeping an open mind!

The first outing was on a Sailboat Charter business; it was awesome; it was a beautiful night; there were about 20 of us; I had rehearsed for hours my new 30 second commercial and was ready for anything.

The group comprised of the usual suspects: web designers, photographers, tree services; the most unusual was a woman who assisted people in buying cars; she literally did all the footwork and negotiating for her clients. In fact, one of her clients sat next her and vouched for her services; but that was not the best part: a woman remembered her from another event; the woman had remembered that she had been inspired as a child with a love for cars; she and her brothers would sit on the porch and identify cars in front of their house. Bingo!

It made me remember what inspired me as a young girl. I grew up in a small town in New York State. There were literally 3,000 people and not a whole lot to do. However, our neighbor had a garbage business with about 3 trucks and did quite well. The wife took me under her wing and when I was about 14 wanted to know if I would help out with the billing. This consisted of writing postcards to customers telling them what they owe each month; then crediting their accounts when they paid.