How to shine online: Networking and marketing in the digital age


How to shine online: Networking and marketing in the digital age


By Kelly Hoey | Networking expert, author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World

Networking in the digital age

Networking holds the key to getting things done.  Yet a lot of people feel anxious or lost when it comes to networking, especially when engaging in conversations online. If you’re one of those people, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. However, if you’re an entrepreneur you already know that networking of your venture is essential for success and digital networking is very much part of the process. This is why effective strategies are needed to overcome those anxieties so you can connect powerfully with your network.

My golden rule when it comes to networking in the digital age is simple: be yourself (that is, be human) regardless of where you meet someone, because networking online is no different than networking offline. Now more than ever we’re craving stronger human connections. The good news is that today, we have more tools to connect meaningfully with others than at any time in history. Social networks, messaging apps, co-working spaces and meetups are just a few examples.

When it comes to allowing the real you to shine online, here are my three suggestions:

1. Think of online platforms as you would physical ‘offline’ spaces - For me, online networking platforms are simply an extension of physical spaces. LinkedIn is the office or industry conference. Facebook is the high school reunion or family gathering. Twitter is the cocktail party. While you may share the same information in all of these networking spaces, you wouldn’t necessarily share it in the same way (i.e. how you share a big promotion at work with your family is unlikely to be the way you tell your closest friends or colleagues).

2. Build your online network by focusing on people you already know - Networking is a time-wasting anxiety when you only seek to meet strangers. Spend more time connecting with your tribe, the people who already know you and know what you are capable of delivering – friends, customers and colleagues.

3. Don’t confuse the technology with the tactic - Digital tools have democratized networking for many of us because they open more doors to opportunity. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that networking today is faster or easier because of digital tools. Networking still takes time. It took seven years of online conversations for me to meet best-selling author Tom Peters (using my ‘be the good guest at the cocktail party’ approach on Twitter *). Today, Tom is a mentor and friend.

Marketing in the digital age

Another huge obstacle that may be holding you and your business back is the anxiety when it comes to promoting or marketing yourself online.

If you think an online marketing strategy is about pushing a product or only talking about yourself – then you should be uncomfortable. When I’m networking or promoting my endeavors online, I remind myself to be the person other people want to talk to.

Because here’s the thing: effectively connecting with others on social platforms is not about one-way marketing; it’s all about two-way interaction. It’s a conversation, a dialogue. It’s sharing information and ideas. It’s being of service. It is not the digital equivalent of walking into a crowded room of people shouting “FRIENDS, I HAVE A 50 PERCENT OFF SALE YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!” without saying hello.

Effective online marketing is about creating multiple touchpoints to stay top-of-mind. Here’s an action list of implementable strategies to do just that:

1. Start posting updates to your personal account on LinkedIn - A good rule to follow before posting: ask yourself if the information you’re sharing will help someone else with their career or business. I’ve been doing this consistently once a day, first thing in the morning. My network tells me “I’m the first update they see every day” and I’ve amassed over 560,000 followers on LinkedIn.

2. Market yourself by marketing others - One way to do this is by enlisting a group of close friends to promote each other regularly by sharing content online (whether by forwarding the insights to your friends via e-mail or Facebook updates or posting a tweet or RT). Send a weekly email to the group asking them “what do you need promoted online this week?”.

3. Participate in Twitter chats and other online events - A great example of this is the Cartier Awards Twitter chat on closing the gender gap in STEM. These types of online conversations will connect you to others who share your passion in a format that is based on contributing good ideas and solutions. Isn’t that what great marketing is really all about? 

* The good guest is the person who wants to be invited back, is helpful to the host and takes interest in the others invited to the party. Online, this translates to retweeting and liking (the digital nod or acknowledgment of another's contribution).

Kelly Hoey


Kelly Hoey, Network expert, is the author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World (January 2017 / Tarcher Perigee). You can find more information about her on her website and you can also follow her on Twitter.