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    Why You Should Carve Out Time For Online Networking

    You will have heard about the importance of networking. Getting out and meeting people can do wonders for your business.

    Not only can you drum up leads from people who might be interested in your products or services, but you can build collaborative relationships and help others in business too.

    But can we ask you a question…

    Do you plan time in your day, week or month to network online?

    Face to face networking is easy to plan for. There is normally a set time for a meet up. You know exactly where to go and what time to be there to connect with other entrepreneurs and business owners.

    It is not as straightforward when it comes to online networking.

    You can quite literally do it at any time of the day or night. This freedom and flexibility can be great as you simply do it when you have the time. But it can also be a bad thing. After all, when you are running a business, who has spare time?

    You tell yourself you will pop on this afternoon. But then the phone rings or an order needs to be packed. Suddenly it is the next day and you haven’t done it. Then it is the next week. Then the next month. 

    People start to forget what you do and how you can help them… You end up having to start from scratch again.

    Carving out time to network online is as important as attending those face to face meetings. Here’s why…

    Connect Nationally Or Internationally

    The great thing about networking online is that you can connect with people all over New Zealand and beyond from the comfort of your couch or bed. There are no restrictions like commuting time, distance or practicality. You simply jump on your phone or computer and can have a conversation with someone halfway around the world.

    Online networking opens up the possibility to meet more people in many locations.

    Flexibility

    We mentioned the flexibility of getting your networking done online. You might not always have the time, the energy or the space in your diary to attend a physical networking event. But you can network online anywhere at any time. Waiting for the bus, killing time before an appointment, or sitting at the school gate do not have to be wasted minutes any more. They can be network minutes instead!

    Make Real Connections

    Sometimes people that network do not have the right intentions. They go to an event to hand out their business cards and to generate sales. 

    But networking should not be about selling stuff.

    Making sales or generating leads is a happy byproduct of networking. The real focus should be on making valuable connections. From those connections great things can grow. It could be your new biz besty, it could be a collaborative partnership, it could be a contra deal, it could just be the support and understanding from like-minded people.

    Connecting online can form true friendships. Real connections that are more than a business card in your hand or a sales pitch. 

    How Can You Do It?

    Consistency is key when it comes to networking. Showing up with valuable contributions gets people to remember who you are and what you do. Networking of any kind is like attending a meeting with another person. So, why not book out time in your diary to do it. You don’t have to do it on a strict schedule. It should fit in around your other commitments, but reserve time and commit to it.

    Here are some suggestions from members of the Network NZ community

    “I do a little during the day (to keep on top of it) but I do most over breakfast and coffee :) To me, it's an important part of being in a group - to be active, comment, support etc so I do my best to be there and contribute.” Beverley CaldwellQuarter Turn Marketing

    “I usually do online networking after I've had breakfast, lunch and dinner for up to 30 minutes. Of course there's always extra time needed at certain times of the year like Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc with my type of business.” Tracey JamesCake And Bake Kiwi

    “It can be overwhelming and you can spend far too much time in there so I've decided to allocate specific times of the day when I've got some down time, It will vary from day to day depending on what's going on but after dinner usually works for me or after work. I might browse through people's posts during the day but if I don't have time to comment on something I will save it and go back to it later”. Ali HunterCareer Insights

    “I seem to always have FB open in the background (which can be a bit dangerous if I'm in the mood for procrastinating) and just pop in and out during the day between tasks. I have all notifications turned off for groups and unfollow them, so instead of simply seeing these pop up in my newsfeed and being subject to the FB algorithm. I'm consciously going into the groups to participate and this also means I get to see all of the posts each time.” Irene BennettsAdmin Army 

    So, how are you going to make sure you actively participate in online networking? The best way to start is to join an active and supportive networking group like Network NZ. Check out how you can get involved in our free group here.