Online Business Networking and Social Networking


The connections you and your business make are of paramount importance today. Developing strategic relationships via networking events has been the traditional means of making new business contacts. There are two main types of online networking, online social networking and online business networking. Online social networking is a service focusing on building relationships among consumers and online business networking is a service focusing on building relationships between businesses.

This guide will give you a better understanding of how online business and social networking has evolved and how your business can use the internet to make connections and gain a commercial advantage. It will provide advice on the types of online networking events you can ‘attend’, identify some of the risks involved and good online networking etiquette. It will also discuss how you can create a social networking strategy and choose the right social media platforms for your business.

Choosing the right social media platforms for your business

Using social networks can make you stand out from your competitors. Engaging with your customers online can raise awareness and build your reputation as a trusted supplier. Social networks give your business an opportunity to gain new contacts from the comfort of your office. Don’t underestimate the savings in cost, time and other resources such as travel that not having to attend a physical networking event can bring to your enterprise.

Social networking can improve your business in a number of key areas:

  • recruitment
  • marketing
  • brand building
  • customer interaction
  • locating strategic commercial partners
  • gathering business intelligence

When choosing which social media platform to use, it’s important to understand where your customers are. You should target your efforts towards the channels they use. In some cases, you will find your best choice is obvious – for example, you may already know that there is a group on Facebook that reflects your business interests and is used by your customers.

You may find you need a combination of social media channels to cover all your needs.


Blogging involves posting regular stories, pieces of commentary or other content to a website, which can be accessed and read by customers and other industry professionals. Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and message each other.

By creating thought-provoking posts on industry issues, you can build a reputation as an authority in the field, stimulate discussion and strengthen your relationship with customers. Blogging also provides another route for potential customers to find you if they’re not aware of your website.

Online PR

Online PR may include engaging or responding to blogs that are not your own, with the intent of marketing or advertising your product or service. You will need to pay attention when choosing the blog you wish to engage so that you have the right target audience.

Social network channels

Social network services are online platforms, which allow people to create a profile representing themselves, and connect with others to broadcast information, stay in touch, send messages and recommend one another.

You could either join a general social networking site – such as Facebook – or a specialist business site such as LinkedIn or Talkbiznow.

Social network channels allow you to build a community of engaged customers who will spread your news and information for you. They can also help you get answers to business questions and find new suppliers.

Having a presence on a social networking channel can keep you on your industry map with relatively little time and effort.

Internet forums

An internet forum, or message board, is an online facility where people can ask questions and hold discussions by posting and replying to messages. Participating in industry and consumer forums to share your expertise and give constructive advice can boost your reputation.

Many forums are moderated (that is, messages are approved before they appear online) so you will need to think carefully about how you present any sales messages. Responding on a forum purely to post sales messages will not impress potential customers and may get your messages rejected or even banned.

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