30 Jun 2021
7 Ways to Sharpen Your Online Networking Skills—and 3 Reasons Why You Should
Even as parts of the world slowly reopen, online business networking remains crucial. After all, making meaningful connections is the key to success in life and health insurance sales, and it may be quite some time before many people are able or willing to meet face-to-face. For the foreseeable future, a great deal of business activity will continue to take place virtually—so that is where we need to be.
In fact, online business networking can achieve many of the same results as in-person functions, including our top three:
- Reaching potential clients you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
- Recruiting new producers (if you manage a team) and connecting with peers (if you don’t).
- Staying abreast of what people are talking about, so you can have meaningful, relevant conversations with prospects.
That’s why it’s important to do it well. With that in mind, here are seven ways to sharpen your online networking skills—and supercharge your ability to make virtual connections.
- Focus First on People You Know
Cold calling can be tough in person, but it’s even tougher online. According to LinkedIn data, most people aren’t inclined to accept connection requests from strangers. That’s why it’s best to build your online network from the inside out, first forging connections with those you know, even if only slightly.
When reaching out to acquaintances, be sure to personalize your invitations to connect. By reminding people how you met and what you have in common, you increase the likelihood of making a successful connection versus generic messages.
- Engage with Your Connections
Making the connection is just the first step—then, the key is to engage. Make it a point to actively follow your connections, liking and commenting on their posts. Posting simple comments such as, “thanks for sharing this—very interesting!” and “I’ve found this to be true as well” is the start of a dialogue.
And when someone posts something you find truly interesting, by all means reshare or retweet it. Good content makes the virtual world go round
- Keep Your Online Profile(s) Updated
When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn or Twitter profile? Now is a great time to do so. Frankly, what sounded good two years ago may seem out-of-date or tone-deaf in our post-pandemic universe.
Make sure your profile is warm and welcoming—not a stark list of credentials or promos for the products you sell. Be sure to include a professional, good quality photo. (On LinkedIn, a good photo can translate to 36 times more messages!) Consider your profile a perennial work in progress.
- Share More Content
Sharing useful, non-salesy content will create credibility and help you establish a solid online presence. And when people check it out—say, prior to accepting your invitation to connect—they’ll have a better sense of what you’re about.
Always be on the lookout for interesting blogs and posts that somehow relate to the need for insurance—financial news, health tips—and other issues that impact your clients. If you have the time and flare for it, original posts can be very effective (but have a trusted pair of eyes review them before posting).
- Request Meaningful Introductions
Everyone engaged in networking understands that it’s largely about leveraging one’s existing relationships in order to make new ones. On LinkedIn, for example, your connections’ connections are called your second-degree connections. See someone you’d like to meet? Ask!
In addition, be generous in introducing acquaintances to each other. There are many advantages to being “a connector.” For one thing, people are more likely to return the favor
- Be a Joiner
A great way to connect with new people outside of your extended network is to join an online group, like LinkedIn groups, or attend virtual networking events. Even if you are not by nature a “joiner,” you may pick up great ideas and information that you can use with your clients.
When attending live virtual events, it’s always helpful to speak up early on, establishing yourself as an active participant, not a silent spectator. That will also make it easier to follow up with other attendees later.
- Venture Outside Your Comfort Zone
Beyond the obvious sources, there are a number of virtual resources geared to local networking. For example, many Chambers of Commerce and other local business groups continue to host well-attended virtual gatherings.
In addition, look for business networking sites like Alignable.com, which serves North America and is organized around the purpose of generating local referrals. Or check-out Meetup.com, an online venue for hosting events and group meetings that is global in scope, but can connect people on a local basis.
Without question, we’ve all become more adept at conducting business digitally since the early days of the pandemic. But there’s always room for improvement. With a little dedicated online networking, your next great local connection could come to you through the vastness of cyberspace.