Virtual Networking

Posted: 11th May 2015

Whether you are networking virtually on forums, blogs, Twitter or in person at a meeting the principles are the same.  Take the confidence and experience you have gained networking face to face and use it for your online networking.

There are lots of reasons why we network for example; support, information, to gain new customers, to find new business partners and friendship to name only a few.  Networking is not just for getting new business – it is so much more!  All networks are different (both on and offline) as are the benefits they offer – or not, depending on what it is you need!

As a marketing tool – networking is just like anything else, it needs to be targeted.  Networking on and offline is about creating conversations and relationships, something that is two way rather than just giving out your message to advertise your business. Think who it is that you need to be having a conversation with? Are they using social media now or will they in the future?

Do you regularly review your networks and what you need from them?

If not, try this:

  • Write down the aims of your business
  • Write down what you need to achieve these aims eg. a business partner, someone who has had previous experience, confidence & support, knowledge of where to get help, business leads etc.
  • Write down what you need from networking
  • List your networks (on & offline) and evaluate whether you have the right mix of networks could some be dropped or replaced? Should you be looking for new networks to fill a gap?

By taking a ‘tea break’ to stop and think where your business is going and how your networking can best contribute to this, you can ensure that you are getting the best value and balance from your networking.

You may find that online networks can contribute to the needs of your business. For example LinkedIn is a professional business network where you could find business partners to work with. By creating a profile for your business on facebook and inviting customers and contacts to like it, you can keep in touch with your customers, gain PR for your business, drive traffic to your website and promote your blog, if you have one. Twitter can also be used to communicate with your customers by giving your followers positive insights into your business.

Always network with attitude. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and to support each other.  Regular attendance at meetings means people will get to know and trust you. They will be more likely to work with you and pass referrals to you because of this. The same is said of online networking – by regularly contributing valuable posts to a forum, you will build your reputation as a trusted expert/fellow human being. Try to help your fellow WiRE members or network community and they will help you.  Remember, you get what you give both on and offline.  Tell people what you are looking for and how they could help you. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Forums can be a good place to promote what you do to a targeted market. You can also learn more about your customer’s needs, while contributing to a forum.  Only post when you genuinely have something of value to add – don’t blatantly sell.  The advantage of forums is that your posts remain over time and will gradually increase your exposure.

Twitter offers a quick, simple, effective way for you to communicate with customers and likeminded people. Send tweets about things that your customers will be interested in and you’ll soon be followed by people interested in your area.


  • Be Nice
  • Be positive
  • Have purpose –  Tell people how they can help you or ask for what you are looking
  • Go out of your way to be helpful to others
  • Be a Connecter – Networkers are valued if they connect people to others
  • It’s Ok to enjoy networking!
  • Whichever social network you choose, follow it for a while so you find out the language and courtesies

of the online community, as well as how it works technically.

  • On social media, be interesting/entertaining/helpful rather than in the case of twitter- too frequent or boring.  It’s important to get the balance right.
  • What to say – Positive insights into your business, advice & tips that others would find useful or interesting.
  •  Plan your online networking into your day/week eg. how many times you will twitter or update your blog.  It’s part of your marketing strategy, but don’t let it take over!


WiRE facebook group


When you have set up a Twitter account begin following @WiREUK


The world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with your trusted contacts. To find the WiRE Group, Login, then search for and join the ‘WiRE Women in rural Enterprise’ private group.