Business networking online

What can you do online to build business relationships?

Building strong business relationships has important benefits. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know’.

If you want like to build relationships with business contacts and potential employees, you could benefit from using a professional networking site.

Examples of professional networking sites are:

LinkedIn

Viadeo

Professional networking sites can allow you to find, connect and share information with individuals and organisations similar to your organisation.

Make social media work for you

For more information on using social media for internal communications within your organisation, see ‘Online communication tools’.

For more information on how you can use social media for promoting your organisation, see ‘Marketing with social media’.

Professional networking typically allow you to:

  • Increase traffic to your website
    Most professional networking sites will let you link to your organisation’s main website from your page. This link can bring in traffic that you would not otherwise receive.
  • Build a clear picture of the key players in your industry
    Many professional social networking sites show you how people are connected to one another. For example, if you go to the personal page of Person A, you will be able to see how you are connected to them. You may not associate with them directly, but you may be connected to them via Person B. If you have a relevant reason, you might be able to ask Person B for an introduction.
  • Keep up with developments in your industry
    On many professional networking sites, a news feed will let you know when people in your network make new connections, take on new roles or move to different organisations. This can help you keep tabs on what people in your industry are doing.
  • Boost your company’s credibility with reviews
    On some professional networking sites, you can allow users to review your products and services. Customers tend to trust the opinions of their peers.

Using other social media sites for business networking

While professional social network sites like the ones listed above are purpose-built for business use, you can still gain business benefits from general-purpose social networking sites.

For example:

Facebook 
Organisations will often join Facebook groups based around their offerings and interests. This is a good way to meet interested individuals and network with similar organisations.

LinkedIn
Much like Facebook, LinkedIn also facilitates groups based around certain interests. The advantage of LinkedIn is that it has a clearer business and organisation focus.

Twitter
Twitter allows you to carry on a public dialogue with other organisations. This helps to foster good relations with peers in your industry.

For both Facebook and Twitter, the fact that these dialogues happen in public also means that you are building a positive, human, public perception of your business with each post.