Business networking sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo are sprouting up like so many weeds all over the Internet. If you have held out joining these networks, thinking their popularity would blow over, I’ve got some bad news for you: they aren’t going away. It’s time to join up.
However, the good news is that joining these networks can do wonders for your business. They are great places to connect with former colleagues and find new people to bounce ideas off of. We have reached a point where you can’t really, in terms of business, afford not to be part of the appropriate business networks for your field. Here are the top five reasons why you need to become part of online business networking groups yesterday!
1 – Enhance Your Credibility
Putting a professional profile on business networking sites enhances your credibility in two ways. First, it shows that you understand new marketing initiatives and can navigate around the Internet, harnessing its power for good in the business world. That might seem like a no-brainer, but it is important for potential clients to see that you are clued into the way business works now.
The second way that posting a professional profile to a business-networking site can help your business credibility is that with many sites you can have your credentials verified by third parties. Your previous employment credentials, academic credentials and your professional affiliations can all be verified. That removes the ambiguity of a resume that has not been checked by outside sources.
I think all of us can remember how resumes without verification have surfaced during things like political campaigns and have been proved to be less than accurate.
2 – Improve your Reputation
The personal networking that these websites facilitate allows you to with LinkedIn, in particular, connect with or be “recommended” by others, who, by virtue of connecting with you or recommending you, solidify your standing in your particular professional field.
These people can write testimonials about your work and vouch for your contributions in your field. Interacting with others in your field, participating in the conversation and becoming better known will increase and improve your reputation.
3 – Publish Testimonials of Happy Clients
In addition to your website, Professional networking sites are great places to publish testimonials from happy clients. If you do not have testimonials, now is the time to request some! Most customers are more than happy to agree, especially if you include contact information, such as a website, for their business as well. Your testimonials are likely to get many more views on this type of site as people scan profiles in certain areas.
4 – Link to Your own Website
Links from professional and business networking sites to your website are high in quality and can result in more traffic to your website. These links improve your search engine ranking, which always helps to gain new customers. In addition, any place that you can have your website information displayed helps spread the word about your business.
If you do not have a website, it is a good idea to start one, even a simple website or blog that you update frequently. You can put more information on your own website than you generally can on a networking site. Also, a website is increasingly seen as an indicator of credibility in and of itself. You can display testimonials, samples, and your resume and provide an additional means for potential clients to contact you.
5 – Allow Prospects to Interact with You
A good way to get more business is to provide an easy way for potential prospects to interact with you online. If you feel unsure about giving your contact information to random strangers (and who wouldn’t, really?), professional networking sites online are a good way to have a third party help moderate and filter contacts for you. You do need to provide some kind of access, and receiving emails through a double-blind system helps keep spam out of your primary inbox, and helps you keep your contacts categorized.