Heard about online networking but not sure how it works?
LinkedIn is a popular business networking site. It's a really easy way to build your virtual network, establish your credibility as a business owner, and encourage people to visit your website or blog. You can explore someone else's profile and connections, find potential clients and service providers, and allow others to find and connect with you.
Once you've found someone else you know, you can view their connections. See someone on their list that you might want to contact? You can do some instant research by viewing this person's profile, allowing you to get to know them before making that initial contact.
Once you're ready, you can easily click a link to send them a note. And you can make your contact message relevant by mentioning LinkedIn and the person that led you to their profile.
It's a way to bypass the occurrence of awkward small talk that sometimes scares people away from face-to-face networking. You get the advantage of finding someone that other people know and trust and learning about them through their profile and website links as well.
Don't get me wrong - virtual networking is only the first step in getting acquainted. You still have to be willing to have phone conversations and even face-to-face meetings to really create a solid business relationship. But for those of you who just dread the idea of walking into a room full of the unknown, it's a great place to start getting to know other business people like you.