The idea of networking can be nausea-inducing. But it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to network effectively. and still keep your lunch down.

Does the idea of networking fill you with dread? Whether you’re on the hunt for a new job or you’re hustling for more freelance work, few people enjoy the anxiety or fear of rejection that comes with putting yourself out there.

Building networking relationships can be difficult, especially if you’re focused too heavily on how you will benefit. A more effective and natural move is to take on the role of helper and simply share your knowledge freely. It’s a no-brainer; you can speak about something you have mastery over and you aren’t asking for anything.

When you let go of the old-school exchange of cards and sales schmooze, networking becomes a whole lot less scary, especially when you move your networking online. (Click here to Tweet this idea)

Follow these three tips to network authentically and build lasting relationships online:

1. Find relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups

Groups are where the action is on both LinkedIn and Facebook. Join relevant groups to connect with your peers and ideal customers. Listen in for a bit, get a feel for the group, then use your expertise to answer questions and get to know other group members.

Set aside time each day or week to dedicate to group activity, and you’ll quickly build a reputation as a go-to person on a given topic. You’ll build personal and professional relationships that keep you top-of-mind the next time someone needs to hire or is looking for a consultant.

Over time, make a point to seek out new groups to widen your circles and let go of those that are less relevant. Avoid showing up only when you have something to ask of the group, as you’ll quickly be pegged as “that” person who’s only concerned about what’s in it for them. Not cool.

2. Forge connections in the blogosphere

If you blog, you know how solitary blogging can be as you pour yourself into writing content, sharing it and waiting for responses. Reading blogs in your industry and actively commenting where appropriate is a great way to forge connections. Well thought out, genuine comments can get you noticed by bloggers.

Repeat commenters become a part of that person’s tribe and can lead to bigger opportunities as they get to know and trust you. Create a list of blogs to follow, including both bigger names and up-and-comers. Get to know them and leave comments when you have something to add to the dialogue.

Don’t go crazy and comment on everything — that can make you seem like a blog stalker. Also, make a point to add these bloggers to your social networks such as Google+ and Twitter.

3. Go beyond the retweet to get noticed

It’s no secret that getting active on social platforms like Twitter and Google+ is a low-risk way to engage with people you want in your network. But you can’t hop on and retweet a couple things, then hope you’ll land a spot as their business BFF.

For this strategy to be effective, you need to have a presence on the platform, with a fully built-out profile. Imagine you engage with someone you want to get to know better, and they visit your profile to learn more about you — but your profile is blank. Would you do that on an online dating site? Then don’t do it on Twitter, Google+ or any other social network.

Take time to select people to follow, fine-tune your profile, tweet or “+” your own content and get active commenting and sharing. Be yourself, add value and be consistent. If you need to, focus on one platform at first instead of dividing your focus across many.

Networking doesn’t have to be scary. It’s easy and enjoyable when you focus on your zone of genius and are authentic. Pick one of these ways to get yourself out there today and start building your network based on value and expertise, not schmooze.

Maggie Patterson is a PR strategist who helps entrepreneurs use DIY PR to grow their business. You can connect with her and learn more about DIY PR on her website and on Google+.


  1. Marsha from

    Loved this! I have a lot of clients who are introverts and/or don’t have a lot of evenings free, and it’s so great to be able to share with them that they don’t HAVE to do the face-to-face.
    I *LOVE what you said about making sure YOU have good content on eg your twitter profile. It’s totally your shop window. I’ve known that for years, but hadn’t thought before to make sure my clients did too.


    • Maggie Patterson

      There’s more than one way to do it, right Marsha? As an introvert myself, I can totally relate to your clients, especially when it comes to the awkwardness of small talk at events! Right now I’m loving getting to know people in advance for an upcoming event through a FB group and it is going to make such a difference for me. No event dread this time around!

  2. Jen

    I think the big problem people have is that they try to tackle too many social networks and then don’t do any of them very well. I know even for myself, I sometimes have a tough time keeping up and then something falls by the wayside. You’re better off being really active on one or two networks and making meaningful connections than all over the place on 5. And, commenting on blogs is a great way to develop relationships.

    • CareerAddict

      Great point Jen. Having one or two social networks covered in a professional manner is much more effective than having an embarrassing presence on several different ones. Your online presence represents your company and if its a half-assed effort, it reflects on the face of your company and can damage your reputation.

    • Maggie Patterson

      Totally agree Jen. You can’t be everywhere all at once, so focus is key!

  3. Nick Loper

    These are some solid tactics. Networking doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me, and if definitely takes a certain level of effort, but it’s something I’m trying to work on this year. Thanks for sharing.

    • Maggie Patterson

      Totally understand Nick. It’s always a push when it doesn’t come naturally, so a little bit of progress can go a long way. Hopefully these help.

  4. Links to Fuel Your Business Hijinks

    […] I will read anything that makes online networking easy. […]

  5. Chip

    This enabling of people to not get away from their computers and have face-to-face meetings is very disturbing. The most successful people are charismatic and are very comfortable being in front of an audience. One will never get their without doing face-to-face meetings. I hated public speaking, and sat in the back of the room when I started networking to expand my business. Over time I be came more comfortable and now make several presentations a week. Just get your face out there, I mean in person.

    • Maggie Patterson

      Hey Chip – Great perspective. I agree we can’t hide out and for things like public speaking, you definitely need to practice to improve. I like to think of these ways as a good way to warm up. You can make connections and then go from there to meeting them in the flesh at events. It’s not an either or proposition but more providing some ways beyond the usual face-to-face.

  6. Easy Online Networking Tactics That Really Work...

    […] The idea of networking can be nausea-inducing. But it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to network effectively. and still keep your lunch down.  […]

  7. Career Coach,

    Excellent tips Maggie! I definitely notice when people comment regularly on blogs I read or on group forums I’m a part of. Their consistency makes them stand out in a good way.

    • Maggie Patterson

      Thanks for confirming that Alison. I think it helps make your a bit more memorable. 🙂

Comments are closed.