5 Methods to Build Your Network Online

networking online

There are many opportunities to connect with others and build your network online. Networking in its traditional sense meant going to events or making connections across the company you work at. Now, you can connect with someone who works at your dream company or in a completely different field to you. Social media networks amplify this power by providing a platform to find a specific type of person. Or, you can interact with brands and companies in general as a form of both learning and networking.

Opportunities for developing your career are abundant with online networks. They are also a great method for tapping into the hidden job market. It is also especially useful to have online networking tools in our busy lives. We can build networking into our daily lives without impacting on our time too heavily. It’s a great way for introverts to build relationships too! Here are 5 methods you can use to build your network online:

  1. Sharing relevant content

Sharing content related to the industry you want to work for on a social media platform shows you keep up with the latest developments. This could be content that you have found, or content that you create yourself. You could write a blog post and share it with your connections on LinkedIn. Or share a company’s article on your news feed. This is networking because it builds your personal brand amongst your connections. And it encourages people to interact with you online. People will connect with you or follow you if they are interested in what you are sharing. This method works on a number of platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  1. Joining groups of interest

Especially useful on Facebook and LinkedIn, joining groups is a great way to network with people in your industry of interest. There are plenty of groups on both platforms with a professional theme. Whether you are interested in STEM careers, science communication, general career development or entrepreneurship, it exists. It's a great way to build your network online because you develop closer connections with those who share your interests. You can share content with a smaller audience who are interested in what you have to say.

Once you have built up a presence in a group, you can interact more with specific people where you have a mutual interest. This could lead to forming deeper connections with people who you may want advice from or can give advice to. There might be someone who knows about a job opportunity that you could be a good fit for. Or someone could know a person in your chosen industry they could introduce you to.

  1. Interacting with other people’s content

Whether you are in a specific group or generally on a social media news feed, interacting with content that other people share is a light-touch way to start building connections. If you have a dream company that you would love to work for, follow them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and like, share and comment on their posts. Build up a virtual relationship with them before connecting with one of their employees or applying for a job there. This is a way of nurturing your relationship with them, which gives you something to build on when seeking an opportunity. It also means you will naturally learn more about the company when you read their articles and share their content.

In a group, offering genuine feedback or insights in response to others’ posts will build up your activity levels in the group, get you noticed and means you are more likely to get responses when you post something. It builds a mutual relationship with the network you are interacting with and gets you involved in conversations that could lead to future opportunities.

  1. Nurture your existing network

Networking can often be perceived as meeting new people. However, it is just as important to nurture the connections you already have. This could be as simple as getting in touch with an old friend or colleague via a social media platform. You could also offer help to people in your current network, by responding to someone’s question or introducing connections to each other to help solve a problem.

Connections shouldn’t just be seen as a number to add to your profile, but people who you should be investing your time in now, who may be able to help you with your career development later.

  1. Subscribe to industry newsletters

A more indirect way to build your network online is to subscribe to newsletters in the industry you are interested in. Often, societies or associations have newsletters that you can sign up to. They send you weekly or monthly emails with the latest industry news, jobs and events. These events could be online webinars or in-person conferences and workshops. These are an opportunity to meet people who are in the industry you would like to work in.  

There are so many opportunities to build your network online. It may be a good idea to focus on one method or platform at a time. Remember that these are long-term strategies that will come in handy throughout your career and life. Make sure you nurture your existing connections as well as building new ones. And you eventually will need to follow up with in-person interactions with those connections that you want to build a further relationship with!  

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.


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