For loan officers, networking is an important element of growing and maintaining a thriving business. Like many elements of our work in the last year, networking has also largely moved online. Even when we are able to network in person, this online aspect will still be important. So, if you’re looking for ways to improve your networking online, here are a few key strategies:
When you’re at an event or get introduced to someone in person, it’s a bit easier to strike up a conversation. Online, it can feel like it requires going out on a limb a bit. One mistake that many professionals make is waiting for the other person to reach out first. If you want to continue to expand your network and strengthen your connections, you have to be willing to initiate conversation and put yourself out there.
Do Your Research
One way to improve that outreach is by doing your research ahead of time. If you’re reaching out to someone for the first time, what can you learn about this person from their profile? What do you have in common? What kind of content are they sharing? The more you can learn in advance, the better you can personalize your message for a stronger first impression.
When networking online, it’s important not to mistake “connections” for “relationships”. The number of connections we have on LinkedIn, for example, isn’t necessarily a true representation of our network. Of that group, how many people do you really know? How many could you call for a favor? How many know who you are? To create a truly valuable network, especially online, it’s important to focus on building relationships, not just making connections. This means you need to continue engaging after that initial connection and put in the effort to maintain the relationship.
Many professionals are goal focused when it comes to networking. They want to connect with someone who may be able to send them clients, introduce them to new business opportunities, or expand their network. These are fine goals, but it’s important to balance that with generosity. When networking online, don’t just think about what you have to gain, but also about what you have to offer. When we share knowledge, time, and contacts with those in our network, we strengthen the bonds and make the relationships more valuable.
Have you been networking online recently? What challenges have you faced? What strategies have you used to overcome them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!