How to use social networking to succeed in business

Gaining immediate feedback, building your dream team in your current job or finding your next one are good reasons to embrace social

Offline networking

Social media is a great tool but it's important to remember that is not all done from behind a desk. That is only one of the fronts in the battle to remain relevant. Ultimately, nothing is better than meeting someone face to face. Our experts encourage you to get out there and start building your professional network in person.

"Networking online is great when you are looking for macro trends or just making high level connections.

However, going offline and meeting face-to-face allows you go deeper with individuals. I look at online networking as 'casting a net' and offline (F2F) networking as 'spear fishing.' When you go wide, you get to see what others are talking about and what challenges they have, but when you are offline that is really when you get into the details," says Tushar Patel, vice president of marketing for Innotas, a company that specialises in IT Project and Portfolio Management Services.

Join professional organisations

Organisations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or CIO's own Executive Council offer yet another opportunity to connect with people within your particular industry or area of interest.

Advance your degree

Many people might not count going back to school as a networking opportunity, but they would be dead wrong according to our experts. "While I was working at Microsoft, I got my part-time MBA.

While it was hard to balance the time, I was able to build some valuable relationships as part of that experience. You don't really have to do full graduate programs--you can go to a class at locally well-known places and you will always meet interesting people, either folks who come to give guest lectures or other professionals," says Goli.

Not only can you further educate yourself, potentially providing more career opportunities and value, but you often meet people who may be potential job candidates or who can provide future job opportunities.

"I cannot count how many times I was connected to someone or received a job offer through a post-graduate studies connection. You can meet people anywhere, it does not have to be a full blown degree program. Take a class, attend a seminar, or go where other like-minded people are, and you will naturally network with new people because you are starting off with something in common," says Patel.

Visiting and networking with companies in your industry who are shaking things up is a great way to glean information and learn more about your industry as whole. "I visit companies that are doing interesting things. If you are genuinely interested in what others are doing, they are usually very interested in discussing it," says Goli.

Final thoughts

In a world where things are constantly changing, like business models, people and technology, social media and networking have become a necessary part of the formula for success. To stay relevant in the upper echelons of the tech world requires a commitment to learning and the ability to engage others where ever they may be, whether it's your development team, the board room, a conference or a meetup.

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