5 Ways to Hack Online Networking and the Places to do it.

Know your Target Market and Where to Find It Online. Here are 5 ways you can leverage the “other” social networks and get in front of your target audience in a more direct and inspiring way.

1. Research where your target market is most likely to hang-out online and go there. 

Network, build relationships and participate on different online networking channels. Find and network with your target market there. In addition to the top 3 social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram) look at forums in your niche or topic area. Five sites worth looking at include BlogHer  CafeMom , Behance ,  Alignable and  SheSpeaks .

2. Join networking groups that are specific to your industry 

This keeps you up to date on what’s going on, what others in your space are doing and often opens up opportunities for referrals. Also find smaller online networks geared toward business owners and professionals.  Virtual Assistant Networking Forum , Wiser.com , Artfire , LawLink  and Diaspora are five examples of industry specific social networking groups.

3. Join groups that are not specific to your industry

Keep in mind that most of the online networking groups you should join should primarily be composed of your target market.   Groups like Classmates , MeetMe , ThirdAge and Tagged have become popular places to expand your network and meet new people.

4. Become a big fish in a small pond. 

  • Be a Resource.  Share resources on social media. When you do people start looking to you for more of the same. And they share it. Often.  Curating and sharing great content keeps people in the know, especially when its content they are interested in. It saves them time. Its also a great way to promote other people, not just yourself. By sharing curated content you start to create relationships with those supplying the content. And often they will return the favor.
  • Be THE Expert. Share what you know In a variety of ways.  Via your blog and pulse posts, newsletters, books and ebooks. Invite them to subscribe and to share your content.  People buy from people they consider experts – be that expert.

 Online Networking sites that give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise include:

a. Quora  is the site where your expertise can really shine. People post questions and experts answer those questions. This helps you build a reputation as a thought-leader who shares openly about things that matter to other members of the network.

b. Stackflow – is a community of 4.7 million programmers, helping each other.

c. Brandergy – A community of professionals focused on brand strategy for brand energy.

Share your blog posts on Medium and become noteworthy. Medium incites a lot of comments and if you position your content to inspire conversations, you will see great results in terms of sharing and traffic to your site. Use Learnist and Udemy to share courses and training that you create, again, showcasing your expertise. Women in Ecommerce is hosting a live webinar all about using Udemy to increase your Credibility and Your Bottom Line . Check it out here: https://wecai.org/udemy-workshop-2016/

  • Be a Celebrity

You’ve probably heard of Justin Bieber and Snookie but did you know there are also thousands of thought leaders using YouTube , Vine , Musically  and Periscope to share visual content people want, need and look for? Grant Cardone uses Periscope to share his content with his 90K+ followers.  Blendtec made its mark on YouTube with it’s Will it Blend series.  Until its demise I was using Blab to showcase women thought leaders in business on  The EntreprenHer Show . I since moved the show to Pod-o-matic. Think about how you could capitalize on and use these sites to increase your “star” power.

5. Create your own social networks

Sites like Mighty Networks ,  Ryze Ning  GroupSpaces and  Grou.ps  are a few that come to mind. These channels often result in more focused results because people are not looking for vast quantities of people to network with, they are more interested in building long-term relationships and find other like-minded people who want to do the same.  For instance, Ning  allows you to create your own custom social network add graphics, customize with your look and feel, add a blog, forums and even “like” and “sharing”  features.

By using these 5 hacks you have a better chance of expand your network, engaging with your target audience and encouraging people to want to buy from you. Bottom line.  

Note: This article was first published in March of 2016. It has since been updated with new links and alternatives to sites that are no longer around.