It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, when it comes to making connections, generating leads, and getting feedback on your ideas, having a wide network is priceless. The more people you know, the better your chances of success.

Social media has meant a lot of networking has increasingly gone online, building a far-reaching network with strong connections is your best strategy for success. Networking involves more than just increasing your followers on Twitter or connections on LinkedIn. It’s about building strong relationships with like-minded people. These connections can sometimes open doors that lead to incredible opportunities.

So where do you begin? We have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you become a networking superstar.

Networking 101

Networking online is often through emails. However, it can also be done in forums and professional associations, as well as the well-known social media platforms LinkedIn and Twitter. We haven’t included Facebook because connections are usually reserved for acquaintances, friends, and family. Cold messaging isn’t generally well-received on this platform.

Email is an excellent way to build a strong, viable online network with everyone in your contacts list, such as old friends, former classmates, associates, clients, and vendors. Use it to touch base, let people know how you’re doing, send congratulatory notes when appropriate, relevant links, etc. Your email signature is also a great opportunity to link to your business website.

Cold emailing is another effective networking tactic for reaching out and making targeted connections with people whom you’d like to get to know. To increase your chances of a response, make sure you follow some simple rules, like personalizing your message, keeping it short, and letting people know how you found them.

With more than 500 million community members organized by skill, industry, and mutual connections, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for finding the right people for your network.

Send direct messages to people within your network, or pay for a premium plan to message people outside of it. To increase your chances of people accepting your invitation to connect try customizing your message to include a brief introduction, and explain why you think the connection is worth making. 

Twitter lies somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn and is an excellent platform for finding the right people to connect with based on their tweets and starting conversations. Use your Twitter bio to communicate your background and tidbits about your personal and business interests. Make sure to include keywords (like your industry or job title) and don’t forget to include a link to your business website.

Like LinkedIn, it’s only possible to send direct messages to people who are following you. If you’d like to contact someone who isn’t, here’s what you should do:

  • Follow them. Then, use “@username” to mention them in a tweet.
  • Once they respond and start a public conversation, invite them to send you a direct message.

With Twitter, it helps to get straight to the point.

We can only go so far alone
While you might not like to admit that you need people, you do. Networking opens doors that you can’t open yourself. And it’s not always about you — sometimes you need assistance, and other times you are the one providing it. When your enthusiasm starts to lag, or you need a boost to get started, remember that by learning how to network effectively and building relationships you’re removing the ceiling on how much you can accomplish. When you connect with others, you can achieve new heights.