Networking Online: How to do it right and get the best results

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‘Just as we’ve finally mastered the handshake, eye contact and thirty-second spiel, a whole new world of networking comes our way with a completely different set of rules. In the fast-paced frenzy of the Internet, no longer can we wing-it and expect stellar results; instead, to get what we want from online networking, we must understand the playing field and master the essential etiquette. ‘– Tory Johnson

Many times it has been stated that our world has changed. Experts have, whether via TV sets or written material, made it clear that traditional ways of participating in the job market have become much less effective. We’ve talked about social recruiting that characterizes much of recruitment modes by many companies. But, how much of all of that, has been taken seriously?

Numbers haven’t changed. That is, the numbers of the illiterate users of the cyberspace. The gap between expectations of many jobseekers and the reality of today’s job market is large.

Most of it can be explained by the fact that many jobseekers never take things such as learning about digital citizenship seriously. Many just pop up into such spaces. But as, Tory Johnson makes it clear, in order to get stellar results, mastering the essential etiquette is a non-negotiable.

We have seen many forecasts about the emergence of the digital economy. Somehow, we’ve always known that change is inevitable. Yet, ironically we so feared that change. Look at the level of social media usage today, and you’ll realize that much of our living happens on such spaces. Many of us can hardly manage to even monitor our usage. However, as opposed to advancing career-wise, a great majority are drastically regressing.

Be it on Facebook or LinkedIn, many users haven’t been up to speed with change. Many have a great number of “friends”. And those are just that, friends. Although, too much information is available on the importance of networking and using such networks to better our lives, many still haven’t learnt the rules of engagement.

Nevertheless, the job market has and continues to change. It seems what many “graduates” expected out here is a far distant reality in the past. Online networking is a new reality. That means, many may have to change attitudes to social media. This can be the only thing between you and your next employment or your business breakthrough even.

Still, some amateurs out there propagate myths about online networking. Terrifyingly, many have built up their online presence on all of that. Well, we must bring to death all such myths. That is, if we’re to remain in good books of the present-day reality in our job market spaces.  

Liz Ryan in Happy about Online Networking: The virtually simple way to build professional relationships highlights the following myths:

Myth One: Online networking is the art of finding jobs, business partners, investors, or new clients online

This is a myth for semantic reasons. You can find all of these things, and more — advice, education, and moral support, for instance — through online networking. But online networking isn’t a system or process for achieving these things online, any more than offline networking is the art of finding jobs, clients, or investors offline.

Offline networking is the practice of meeting people, maintaining contact with them, and cultivating your relationships over time. Good things can and do result from those behaviors. But it would be cynical and crass to define offline networking as simply a way to get what you want through other people. And it works the same way online. If you approach online networking as connecting with and supporting other people, you’ll be amazed at the results you get.

Myth Four: In online networking, it’s the number of contacts you’ve got that makes you successful

Myth Four takes us smack into a raging controversy among online networkers, known as the QVQ (Quality versus Quantity) debate. It’s pretty simple: the QVQ debate pits the more-is-better crowd (TeamQuantity) against the die-hards who argue for a smaller, more robust network (Team Quality).

Myth Five: Online networking is free

Online networking is cheap, but it’s not free. As you dive into the online networking mosh pit, you’ll become acutely aware of the value of your own time. When you’ve spent an hour reading two days’ worth of list-serv digests, and another half-hour updating your online contacts and corresponding with your online buddies about nothing in particular, you’ll realize that everything has a cost.

It’s true that many online networking resources are free to users. That’s the good news. What’s also true is that you’ll need to budget your time, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for you, and remove yourself from expensive (in the sense of time-consuming/low-yield) online networking entanglements promptly.

Final Thoughts

These and many more underlie the frustration of many today. The time has never been more important to learn the new rules. Nothing will ever be the same. Covid-19 simply removed the veil from many eyes, so that we can picture our true reality. Call it work-from-home or YouEconomy on cyberspaces. Whatever you call it, the world has changed. Cyberspaces are no longer a future thing.


Teboho Polanka
Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.