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Networking for the Virtual World.

Suddenly some of my clients are in positions of the need of approaching and connecting with people that they didn’t know over the internet. Networking as it’s called. And I love discussing this topic with people.

A lot of people do this wrong. They try to send "all the information" together for them to get back, or they’ll send a message that’s always about them – more Is than YOUs, or worse being completely vague about what they are asking for.

In one of my earlier Lessons Learned emails, I mentioned how to network in general. To be human that is. And this time I thought of sharing some ways to actually do it through the channels online.

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Here’s a real-world example that I used. Almost 2 years back, I reached out to the COO of OYO Townhouse. Cold. No prior relations, no common connections and ofcourse not in the same city.

And THREE days after this message, I was meeting him in their Gurgaon offices. Where they extended an offer to work together! 3 days flat.

It was thrilling and exciting. But the fact is, when other people look at this is that it was a fluke. Whereas I call it Research. 80% of the job before approaching someone is Research! What that means is, I knew for a fact that when I sent him that message, OYO as a company was looking for that opportunity in doing events across their hotels. And in my follow up email, I made a case of how events can be useful to them and how I could help them with it.

Most people avoid the crucial first step.

Atray, Here are some tips I use when I’m trying to connect/network online:
1. Research about the person/company. Don’t send Copy Pasted email or messages to someone. People are good at finding out when something is personalized and when something is not. I never send out a message without understanding what it is this person needs/wants and how I can help them.

2. Be real – Corporate language is a big no-no. Although there’s a fine line between being douchey and being professional. You need to show your personality, and that comes along with the language you use,
with the clarity of your thought. And you need to show respect to their needs/wants and time. Be short and crisp, but not like a robot.

3. Stay in sight – think of this like advertising yourself. The more you see an advertisement, the more they remember it. For someone to reply to you or remember to get back to you, you need to keep in touch with them, WITHOUT being creepy. And you can do that by using multiple channels – Email, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram etc.

The way to do this is by genuinely being curious and engaging with the person at different levels slowly. Here’s the usual flow I take –
Send email -> Look up Linkedin (they get a notification of this) -> Engage with their Tweets (Commenting, Retweeting – with real, honest stuff) -> Follow up on Email again -> Engage on Instagram -> DM on Instagram (Remind them about email) -> Follow up on Email again.

Each step is designed in a way to make them realise that you’re actually engaging with their work. And for them to remember your name.

It looks like a lot of work, but it follows the principle of Following Up – which as I said earlier, is a Superpower. When you do it well, other people thank you for doing it because at the end you’re helping them with something.

I love finding out new ways to interact and connect and network with people online. Email is definitely the best, but the responses are much faster on other platforms. Try your own thing. Tweak this to your own strengths.

Published in On Business

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