The fundamental pillars of networking
Networking has always felt like one of those buzzwords that seem simple enough to understand, but somehow still daunting and challenging. And as a Community Manager, ensuring you’ll know that for your members, using the space to network can feel overwhelming at times.
With the onset of the pandemic, and the ever-growing presence of digital technology, networking in digital spaces has not only become more commonplace, but it’s also now crucial for any professional looking to grow their business, to find mentors, or even secure funding. But how do you simplify this for your members? Knowing the fundamental principles of networking is essential, as well as choosing a platform that can empower you and your members to network with confidence.
Much like building friendships, networking is first and foremost based on shared interests. As a Community Manager, half your work is already done, because all your members have joined for a reason: they share common interests, and they have the same (or similar) goals. Be sure to keep this in mind as you revisit your community strategy, and use the right opportunities to remind your members of why they’re there, and most importantly: what they have available to them to network successfully.
Three E’s: Effort, Enthusiasm, and Engagement
As is the case with creating any meaningful connection, whether it's friendship or professional, it requires the three E’s: effort, enthusiasm, and engagement. No matter the reason for wanting to network, the truth is that it does take work, especially in online spaces, where so many people are experiencing digital fatigue. But approaching the connection with some effort (finding the right people, striking up a conversation), enthusiasm (showing interest in the conversation), and engagement (being willing and ready to talk, share and collaborate), you’re well on your way to creating something truly meaningful and lasting. Read more on tips when networking, here.
According to networking expert Simona Barbieri from Hubdot, there has long existed an idea that networking is only reserved for elite business people, conference rooms, and seminars. But she reminds us in our recent interview with her, that networking is an inherent ability that all people have – and one all people want to experience. Networking should be open, transparent, and inclusive at all times. By keeping an open mind, new and unexpected connections can be made.
Using the right tool
Community managers will know that the correct community platform is everything. Finding the right platform is arguably the most important tool for effective networking in a community. Firstly, it’s important to shop around and request demos to ensure you’ve isolated the perfect platform to achieve your goals. It’s important to look out for these features:
1. Member screening capabilities: To ensure that all members entering the community are the right fit and can offer professional advantages to other individuals as well as the community at large.
2. Detailed profile customization: The more info a member profile contains, the more opportunities there are to see exactly who they are, and what they can offer – this helps members search and pinpoint the exact people they’d like to connect with.
3. Advanced searching and filtering: With detailed profile customization, it’s vital that members are able to search and filter through the other members. Look out for platforms that offer search and filter features like distance, interests, age, and more.
4. Chat functions: This is a no-brainer. Chat capabilities are important to get people talking, so ensure that any platform you opt for has a simple and easy-to-use chat interface.
5. Events features: With the onset of the pandemic, virtual events have become crucial for networking. A community platform with events pages and management tools will help your members get networking in no time at all.
Panion recently relaunched its platform with new and exciting features. These features empower Community Managers and their members to make the most of the community by encouraging authentic engagement, genuine connections, and impactful networking. Be sure to have a look at these features, and to book a demo if you’re interested in knowing more.