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How Can Online Communities Accelerate Your Networking Skills?

December 21, 2021

Learn how online communities can help you build your networking skills. Explore the benefits of online communities, why they're so effective, and ten critical collaborative networks that will help you expand your network exponentially.

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Take A Look At How Collaborative Networks Can Give Your Network A Boost

As an entrepreneur, you know how to keep your business strong, even when running it on your own. 

But two things you cannot do without are hands-on experience and making the right connections. To make your mark in your industry, you need the support of your professional network. 

It would help if you surround yourself with other business owners who have common goals and make the right connections for you and your brand. 

A great way to grow your network is to join a virtual professional community. These online business communities offer many collaboration benefits. 

But what is an online business community, and why are they essential for your company? 

Take a look at how you can find connections with compatible goals and ten of the most critical business skills you need to succeed.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

What Are Online Business Communities?

An online community is a group of people who come together to socialize and collaborate

Online communities are nothing new. You probably are part of a few on social media that relate to a shared value or common interest. 

Today, many social networks are formed via a dedicated social platform, like LinkedIn or Facebook, but informal networks can sprout on forums, comment sections, or through a wiki. 

Since the nature of owning a business involves many highs and lows, it's essential to have a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who can offer advice and support when you need it most. 

You can turn to this network of professionals for a variety of reasons: 

  • Collaboration
  • Reference Models
  • New Product Ideas 
  • Extended Enterprise
  • Referrals 
  • Advice

Online business communities often organize regular meetings that depend on the needs of the group members. They share best practices on growing your client base and how to meet the needs of all stakeholders in your company. 

Unlike other networking opportunities, they allow you to instantly build relationships with the right people rather than sort through attendees to see who will make the most valuable contact. 

Participating in collaborative networked organizations can also help improve your communication skills, which will, in turn, help you better run your business. 

Let's take a look at how online communities can help your business thrive. 

Importance Of Online Communities For Businesses

Online business communities allow you to develop a rapport with other entrepreneurs to create a dynamic virtual organization with many benefits: 

  • Develop Strong Relationships With Other Business Owners 
  • Accelerated Outcomes For Business Goals 
  • Nurture Growth Amongst Virtual Enterprises
  • Connect With International Connections In Real-Time
  • Opportunity For Value Creation 
  • Learn From Peers How To Solve Challenges And Improve Individual Performance 
  • Share Business Models For Stronger Practices 

Joining an online business community will help you expand your professional network by exposing you to multiple entrepreneurs with similar backgrounds, interests, and goals. 

These communities can also help you create a business ecosystem, a purposeful business arrangement between entities that creates and shares collective value for a set of customers. 

But to bring value to the group, you'll need specific competencies to show you have what it takes. Let's look at ten business skills you need to develop. 

What Are The Top 10 Important Business Skills You Need To Have Now?

Much like a computer network, a professional network is only as good as the components it's made of. 

This means members of your collaborative networks need to have critical business skills that allow them to thrive. 

Here are the top ten business skills you need to have to enhance the social capital of your online business community. 

1. Networking

Networking is about more than just meeting new people. It's about finding the right people with the proper credentials to help support business growth. 

The future of networking is virtual- meaning you need to be well versed in communication technology like video conferencing and online networking. Don't work network: connect with people. There are many simple things you can do to connect with others: 

  • Share Their Work On Social Media 
  • Send Notes To Thank Them For Their Contributions 
  • Buy And Review Their Products 
  • Remain Active In Your Online Business Communities 

It would help if you also were prepared to share your contact information instantly since handing over a paper business card isn't possible in an online community. 

As you build your network in a virtual setting, be prepared with a virtual business card. These cutting-edge contact files allow you to add more than just your name and contact information. 

You can include links to content, websites, and valuable resources to instantly show your new connection that you are an expert in your field.   

2. Social Media Marketing

Nowadays, if your marketing strategy doesn't include social media, you're already a step behind your competitors. Growing your business on social media offers sustainability for brand awareness. 

Learn how to make your posts stand out from the noise that clutters every feed. Generate valuable content and share it at critical times when your target audience is most active. 

3. Growth Mindset

This skill is vital for business and networking. A growth mindset is embodied by people who believe they can develop their talents through good strategies, hard work, and input from others. They tend to achieve more because they are constantly working to improve themselves. 

Having a growth mindset helps support intelligent business decisions and makes networking efforts more meaningful. 

Since individuals with this outlook crave input from other professionals, it makes them more open to accepting advice from members of their professional network. 

4. Problem-Solving 

Running a business has become increasingly complex. It would help if you were a savvy problem-solver between customer concerns, supply issues, and developing new products to get ahead. 

Strong problem-solving skills are critical for ever\y professional. Here are some ways to improve your problem-solving abilities: 

  • Practice Active Listening 
  • Be Dependable 
  • Do Your Research 
  • Participate In Team Building 
  • Keep A Level Head 

Always approach new problems as an opportunity for growth. Look for the root cause of the issue and consult with your professional network to see if anyone else has experienced a similar problem. They may offer critical insights that will help you solve your problem. 

5. Data Analysis

Data analysis enables your business to make informed decisions that facilitate rapid growth. Every entrepreneur needs to know how to identify critical data and work with it. Some important data points include: 

  • Website Performance Metrics 
  • High-Ranking Keywords 
  • Conversion Rates 
  • ROI

Take the time to learn what each data point means and how it influences your business. Then, figure out how to analyze that data to make better business choices. 

6. People Management

If you want to succeed in business, you need to know how to manage people. You will interact with an endless variety of personalities and backgrounds, so you need to know how to read the room and work with others. 

People management influences the productivity and perception of your business. It is the act of making sure people are provided for and have what they need to get their job done. 

Patience, trust, active listening, and empathy are just some of the people management skills you'll need to build solid relationships around your business. 

Your people management skills will come into play as you build your professional network and participate in your online business communities. Good communication is at its core, so always be quick to reach out to others. 

7. SEO Knowledge

You already know the power of Google. It facilitates both organic and paid growth opportunities for digital businesses ranging from nonprofit organizations to big corporations. 

It's one thing to advertise on Google, but it's another to ensure your website is SEO-optimized. 

Do keyword research to see which keywords rank highest in your industry and infuse those organically into your content. 

Once you understand how SEO impacts your business, you'll be able to position your website better to rank higher on Google and attract more users without busting your budget. 

8. Flexibility 

Being flexible extends beyond your professional life. However, it is a crucial business skill that offers many incentives on the job. 

When working on a team or networking with a group of professionals, it's essential to try new approaches or accept advice. 

Flexibility will increase productivity, employee retention, and community engagement. When you are willing to try new things and change your course when something isn't working, it eliminates isolating hierarchies that may halt problem-solving. 

Being flexible and adaptable may lead to a better bottom line and attract a more extensive professional network. 

9. Continuous Learning

Your business education doesn't end once you start a business. You need to continuously build and develop new skills to adapt to the rapidly evolving workplace. 

Continuous, flexible learners have a better chance and prolonged success. They will thrive in online business communities as they soak up new knowledge and offer their existing skills to help others develop professionally. 

Always look for new opportunities to learn new things. You never know when this knowledge will pay off down the road. 

10. Thriving In A Virtual Setting 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's critical to thriving in a virtual environment. This means establishing yourself as a virtual leader in your industry. 

Not only will this make you more attractive to prospective connections, but it will build credibility with your clients as your name and face are present in multiple online settings. 

Make yourself visible in the virtual world by: 

  • Maintaining A Strong Presence On Multiple Social Media Platforms 
  • Leveraging Technology Tools 
  • Being Responsive To Emails And Messages
  • Participating In Forum Discussions 
  • Offering Your Skillset To Your Online Business Community 

Remember that others will meet your online persona before they meet you in person, so cultivate a reputation you are proud of. 

Use Online Communities To Build Your Business And Your Network

Your business is not built in a vacuum. It's crucial to network with other professionals to develop your business and make mutually beneficial connections. 

Participating in online business communities will amp up your networking efforts by putting you in contact with like-minded individuals who can offer support and advice for growing your business. 

Remember always to maintain a positive tone and take the time to become an active member in these communities. Before long, you'll be the member offering advice to the newcomers and sharing success stories with the group. 

FAQs

How do I make a digital business card? 

Create your digital business card by using one of the top five apps. 

What can I do to make my business meetings more effective? 

Run more effective and proactive business meetings by including the right participants, honoring the start and end times, and guiding the discussion to stay on topic.

What are the characteristics of an effective collaborative service network? 

Strength, size, and rage are three characteristics to look for to determine if a collaborative service network is adequate. 

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