You’ve probably heard of online networking tools, commonly known as’social media’ or ‘networking sites.’ These are the websites and services that allow business owners to create profiles, post content, and network with other businesses and individuals. Some of the more prominent examples include LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Now, while these sites can be extremely helpful to businesses and individuals in developing their online presence, they’re certainly not just for fun. These sites often give people the opportunity to connect with other businesses, which can lead to a potential chance of making a sale. For that reason, it’s important to understand what type of online network marketing tools are available and which one is right for your needs.
Professional vs. Social
Before we begin, it’s important to note that not all online networking tools are created equal. Some are more focused on business networking and building professional relationships, while others are aimed more at connecting with friends and family. To determine which one is right for you, it’s important to think about what you’re looking for. Do you want to use the tool for business or pleasure? Are you looking to build a network of friends or business connections?
If you’re looking for a general networking tool, then you might want to check out LinkedIn or Facebook. These sites allow you to connect with over a million users, which can be extremely helpful in broadening your network. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to build a business network, then you might want to check out BNI (The Business Network Internet), which is a professional network that can also be used for business networking. BNI allows you to connect with over 100,000 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and businesses owners. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to networking or want to build a more formal business network.
Business Versus Pleasure
As stated above, not all business-related networking tools are created equal. For that reason, it’s important to think about what you’re using the network for. If you’re looking for a tool to just have fun and meet new people, then you might want to check out Twitter or Facebook. These sites allow you to share your thoughts with the world, which can be fun and also expose you to new opportunities and ideas.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a tool to connect with other businesses and boost your sales, then you might want to check out platforms such as LinkedIn, BNI, or XING. These sites allow you to build a professional network and discover potential business connections who can further expand your reach and grow your business. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for a premium account to get the most out of these sites.
Another thing to consider before joining a network is the features the site offers. Do you want to use Twitter to simply share your thoughts with the world or are you looking for a site that provides advanced analytics and detailed reporting? LinkedIn and BNI offer a variety of features that can help you connect with other professionals, find business opportunities, and grow your network. Some examples include:
- Profile customization
- Advanced searching
- Editing tools
- Mobile apps
- And much more
While these features might be appealing, consider that a lot of sites out there don’t offer the same level of functionality. If you’re searching for a site that’s simple and straightforward, then look for the basics — no frills, no fancy features. That way, you can get the most out of the site and avoid being distracted by extraneous things.
Security And Privacy
When it comes to using the internet for business purposes, especially when it comes to connecting with other businesses, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, always use a secure connection when talking online. This means using a secure connection like HTTPS, rather than a less secure one like HTTP. HTTPS ensures that all the information you share is kept private and is also encrypted before it is transmitted, avoiding any chance of being eavesdropped by people with malicious intents.
The second thing you need to keep in mind is that when you connect with other businesses, you’re opening up a can of worms. You’re giving them access to your personal details, which, in most cases, you can’t take back. For that reason, it’s important to be certain that the company you’re connecting with is legitimate and will not misuse your information. In most cases, this means checking out their security policy and asking questions about how their website handles personal data. Ensure that any business you’re connecting with is a member of one of the trade groups for your niche. This way, you know they are a legitimate business and that your personal information will be kept secure.
Features Review: LinkedIn
Now that you have an idea of the types of sites available, let’s take a quick look at one of the most popular ones — LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a variety of features that can help you find a job, connect with other professionals, and grow your network. These features include:
- Status update
- All-in-one Workplace
As you can see above, LinkedIn offers a lot of features, making it one of the most popular business-related networking sites. It’s highly likely that you already have an account on this site because it’s extremely easy to use and provides a lot of value. As a matter of fact, LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, which also owns this website.
Security And Privacy Review: Facebook
Next on our list is Facebook, also owned by Microsoft. As the name would suggest, Facebook is focused on connecting people through social media and keeping them connected to the people and content they love. Like LinkedIn, Facebook offers a variety of features that can help you find friends, connect with other professionals, and grow your network. These features include:
- Status update
- News Feed
- And more!
Unlike LinkedIn, however, Facebook is more of a leisure tool. So while it can certainly help you find a job, it wouldn’t hurt to consider other uses as well — for instance, creating a group for teens and setting it up as a safe place to hang out, meet new friends, and discuss whatever comes to mind. Just make sure you’re aware of the fact that Facebook tracks your every move and keeps a record of your interactions, whether you want it or not.
Features Review: Twitter
Last but not least, we have Twitter. Twitter allows you to share your thoughts with the world (or with a specific group) through short messages — commonly referred to as ‘tweets.’ While most people use Twitter to simply share their thoughts and engage with other users, it’s certainly not limited to that. Twitter allows you to discover businesses, connect with other professionals, and expand your network. These features include:
- Status update
- Direct Messages
- And more!
In most cases, you’ll want to use the site simply for sharing your thoughts and engaging with other users. However, if you’re looking for a networking tool, then you might want to check out the advanced functions, such as following and gaining access to exclusive content.
As you can see above, Twitter is another popular business-related networking site owned by Microsoft. It’s been around for a while and, like LinkedIn and Facebook, has gained a large following due to its ease of use and functionality. People who use this site regularly report that it’s improved their productivity and helped them discover new opportunities.