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5 Ways to Make Online Networking Work for You

Experts have extolled the virtues of online networking for eons, but how can you make it work for your career? It's one thing to become buddies with an influencer on Twitter and another thing entirely to develop a more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship. Brazen Life suggests the following five strategies to take your networking skills to the next level.

  1. Connect on additional networks. Brazen Life points out that while most initial networking happens on Twitter, other social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn are better suited for in-depth dialogue. Another alternative is to comment on the person's blog.
  2. Email your connections. As much as some people bemoan email, it's still a valuable communication channel. Ask your connection about the projects they've got in the pipeline, and if you can do anything to enable their success. This strategy pays dividends in the long term; as Brazen Life writes, "Down the line, when you recognize a way to work with that person or find that you could use their advice, you can simply reply to the original email, and they'll recognize you as a friend."
  3. Chat on the phone. This strategy is ideal for connecting with individuals who feel less comfortable with social media or online communication.
  4. Get face time. Meet with your online friend for coffee or a meal. If you don't live within a reasonable driving distance, you could opt instead for a Google+ Hangout or Skype chat. "When suggesting this in-person face time, present it as though you have something to offer, even if you're sure you'll learn more from this contact than they will from you," advises Brazen Life. "How can you help them? At the very least, show the person how interested you are in their work and explain that you'd love to learn more about what they do."
  5. Leverage conferences and seminars. Use these events to get to know online friends better. This means you'll have to do some research ahead of time to see who will be attending a conference or meetup and make plans accordingly.

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(Photo credit: Deb Nystrom/Flickr)

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