Networking has become a necessity in the interconnected world we live in today. Finding, forming, and fostering mutually rewarding relationships is the key to successful networking. Those who excel at networking passionately share the dos and don’ts of this affair. One must dress professionally. One must carry business cards. One must have an elevator pitch. And so on.

But how does one network online?

The landscape of networking has been transformed dramatically with different online channels. Some may argue that networking is more of an art than a science. In the digital realm, however, one must now skillfully master the art and science of networking.

Finding and forming professional relationships may have moved beyond just attending work events and exchanging business cards but the concepts can still apply online. There is a process (a science, if you will) in establishing relationships, both professional and personal. One such process is called the VCP process.

Dr. Ivan Misner, who originally conceptualized the VCP Process to generate referrals for businesses, describes it as “the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business, professional, and personal relationships.” He explains that one must go through all these phases to form successful relationships. These phases of networking are categorized as: Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability.

Visibility

In this first phase, a link is created between two interested parties who become aware of each other through shared interests. To move on to the next phase, it is important that each party maintain awareness to remain visible and present in the minds of each party.

Credibility

The second phase involves building trust and confidence in the supposed partnership. If expectations of each other have been met, the relationship will continue to strengthen and grow. Mutual satisfaction is key.

Profitability

The relationship will only survive till here if each involved party has proven to be visible and credible. This is the stage where individuals must determine is the relationship is mutually rewarding. It should profit everyone involved.

Still, the question remains- how does one network online?

Given the VCP process and other various networking strategies, everything can be applied online. Here’s how:

Create your online profile

The type of profile you build will depend on your networking goal. 

  • Want to connect with other professionals? Use LinkedIn. It’s one of the most powerful business platforms in the past decade. Don’t underestimate it. 
  • Want to showcase your portfolio? Design a web page using sites like Wix and WordPress.com or Behance and Dribble.
  • Want to spread your message or convey your story? Try social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.

Join online communities

Become an active member of a particular network, or several.

  • Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups of your interests.
  • MeetUp is an excellent for finding and building local communities, whether you want to build a mobile app, learn how to code, or hike a mountain.
  • Start Up Nation is a goldmine for entrepreneurs and small business owners. It offers key insights for personal growth that’s crafted by seasoned leaders and professionals.

To learn more about benefits of online communities and different platforms that can be used, click here.

Attend virtual conferences/webinars

Attending local gatherings and business-related events are great for meeting new contacts. However, contacts can be approached online as well.

  • Use Webinara to attend and promote webinars. Listen to experts in their field to get inspiration and learn new things every week.
  • Attend virtual events from home on Eventbrite.
  • Take a look at this site for the “most authoritative list of 2020 virtual events and conferences on the internet.”

To some, networking can be exhausting. To others, it is part of their routine and a reason for adrenaline rush. The first step to anything is showing up- whether in-person or via a screen. Don’t let it scare you.

After all, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” -Brene Brown