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How to Build Your Professional Network Online

Making new acquaintances and building an enduring, mutually beneficb2ap3_thumbnail_Online-Network.jpgial relationships has always been of great importance in business world, whether you are seeking an employment or simply trying to expand your sphere of influence and open yourself to new opportunities. While the business interactions are becoming more and more web dependent, online networking should be one of your key skills. Building a large base of influential contacts and making a strong web presence, will help you and your organization to stand out more amongst competition. Although building such professional networks does require time and patience, if handled properly it might prove of key value in developing your business.

Making the first steps
One of the first things you will have to do is to form your overall strategy and to make clear decisions like who do you know, who do you want to know, what are the skills you want to present online and what do you really want to achieve by building a network. Choosing professional and social networking sites where you will implement your decisions is much simpler task. While your primarily focus should be on professional sites, such as LinkedIn, Biznik and Plaxo, you should not overlook social sites, like Facebook and MySpace, where you might already have a number of influential contacts. Searching for new acquaintances should not go overboard, however. While your business always has to be ready to grow in process of making a selection of people you want to be familiar with you should always go to quality over quantity.

Taking care of your professional image
Observance that the first impression is one of the deciding factors in forming opinion about person is usually used while talking about live interactions, but the same rule applies in online interactions as much. Be sure then, that the profiles that are accessible to your employer or business partners are clear of any questionable content and informations about you are transparent and well organized. If necessary, keep separate profiles for your friends. You should also pay attention to grammar and spelling in your interactions. Not capitalizing, or writing grammatically incorrect sentences will undermine your professional image and create an impression of overall sloppiness and laziness.

Making enduring connections
Understanding that primary purpose of building a professional network is building a strong relationships and sharing information with a number of trustworthy people, which will only eventually lead to new business opportunities you can exploit, will be of great help to you. Instead of being a job-hunter, try to be a relationship –builder. Make your web presence as strong as possible by participating on various blogs, groups and forums, where you will be able to express solid opinions and make yourself into a source of valuable information and well-thought answers. Invest time in maintaining your network and treat your interactions as you would if they were face-to-face. Find common interests with the people you are interacting with and try to meet your online acquaintances in person whenever is possible. Strong and enduring connections will prove useful more than once and in a long-term will be of great importance to you.
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