The Rise and Rise of professional networking
In the early days of social media, when My Space ruled the roost, having an online profile was reserved for the teen and tween generation – talking about the latest music and socialising was the order of the day. As social networking has evolved it has become evident to professionals throughout the world that there is the opportunity to connect, communicate, share and network with like-minded people without the need for travel and in a cost effective manner.
Looking back a few years, conferences and exhibitions were THE place to make business connections – take the pet industry for example , a £2.7billion industry in the UK alone – for manufacturers and suppliers to meet contacts and build relationships with others in the industry PetIndex was THE show to visit. With significant investments in attendance and ensuring all company representatives were present; this would represent a big focus for any pet business. However in 2012 the event was cancelled due to declining attendance yet the pet industry is still on an exponential rise – so why is this the case?
In May 2003 a little known website called LinkedIn was founded – defined as the leading online network of professionals and companies. Over the space of the next 11 years the site grows from nothing to reaching 225 million members and growing at a rate of 2 members every second! Far from the starting point of just basic profiles, LinkedIn today offers members the ability to network and connect with like-minded professionals, search for jobs, research prospective companies and self-promote to head-hunters. Companies can post promotional information on their own pages, from business updates through to industry news, in addition to job listings and it is increasing being used for recruitment. For companies such as the pet suppliers we have mentioned there are also increasing numbers of groups which members can follow, participate and promote within. For example, groups such as Pet Professionals or Animal Health Marketing Professionals. These groups are not just restricted to the local market but worldwide offering truly international routes to reach new suppliers, distributors and contacts. Imagine the potential for new brands to introduce their product portfolio to 5000 other key industry people with minimal cost and effort. Sadly the downfall of the face to face network event appears an inevitable consequence of such effective communication methods but for businesses this is an exciting and evolving way to grow and develop a brand.
As with any other element of your business presence online, if you are looking to network, recruit or promote through any professional network your company profile must reflect your brand, your values and an overall highly professional image. Building an outstanding online reputation will help promote and fast track your business and sites like LinkedIn offer both the opportunity to create and establish yourself as an authority in your field – but you need to start with the basics! With options for personal profiles and business profiles, the ability to publish and endorse and be endorsed, your profiles can soon build to really promote your expertise – and all terms are fully searchable by search engines meaning a well written SEO friendly profile is always recommended.
If you are new to professional networking and would like advice and guidance on building an online profile why not consult a specialist who can help ensure you have the very best online reputation. Ramesh is a Business Development Manager who will work with you to build and maintain your online presence with up to date guidance on networking and online marketing.
Visit Ramesh on LinkedIn