Everyone talks up networking, but is it really worth the hype? It certainly has its advantages. Studies show that more than 80% of professionals believe one’s career benefits from professional networking. While many are familiar or have experience with in-person networking events, there’s a current shift toward online networking.
These important career benefits apply to professionals that run home service businesses. This includes people like HVAC contractors, duct cleaners, plumbers, solar panel installers and more. Read on to learn about the benefits of online networking for your business and find out how you can take advantage of online networking.
What Is Online Networking?
Networking is interacting with other industry professionals to develop new contacts and opportunities for growing your career or business. Networking is traditionally done face-to-face, but as the world moves digital, more people are embracing networking online. The pandemic even further motivated the world of online networking and career development because businesses and professionals had to move everything online. With online networking, you have the advantage of controlling the environment and conversation.
Benefits of Online Networking
Your business can benefit from networking online no matter what home service you offer. One primary benefit for businesses is the opportunity to generate more leads. These leads may convert into paying clients or referrals to other potential customers.
Another benefit that is often overlooked is the chance to meet other professionals in your industry. New connections can bring new opportunities and information for your business. These include great hires, partnerships with suppliers and even building investment.
The more you network, the more you’ll generate greater brand awareness for your business and meet new people, which in turn provides even bigger networking opportunities, from event invites to guest speaking opportunities. The more events you attend, the more you’ll learn about your industry.
Where to Network for Businesses
There are lots of ways to network as a home service professional, from third-party services to social media. A majority of events and opportunities that were once limited to in-person events are now offered online. This means that you’re no longer limited by physical distance. It also means you have greater and more ample opportunities to network with others across the country.
Use Social Media
Social media is easy to overlook as a networking tool simply because everyone uses it, but that’s exactly what makes it such a great place for professional networking. In fact, LinkedIn messaging alone has led to new opportunities for 35% of networkers.
Social media is a place where people communicate. Start by using your business’ social media accounts to earn new followers and generate leads. Engage with your followers and offer helpful informational content. Then, find other industry professionals and home service businesses to connect with through your followers.
You can also use each social platform’s search tools to find other professionals in your field. Be sure to follow their pages and interact with their posts before reaching out. Social media is also a great place to learn about the networking events that others in your industry are attending. The professional possibilities with social media are truly limitless.
Attend Online Industry Events
Due to COVID-19, there are a host of online meetups, webinars, conferences, podcasts and more on professional sites like LinkedIn. Many organizations and companies are offering similar programs. Attend these events, learn something from other experts and write down the names of speakers and guests to follow-up with.
At KGG, we both host our own industry training events and regularly attend industry conferences. Participating in professional events has a multitude of benefits. In addition to the networking possibilities, they’re great educational experiences and possible resume additions. You can also increase awareness for your business and open up other’s willingness to network by being a guest speaker or hosting your own event.
Get Involved With Forums
Online forums, communities and groups are another great way to meet people in your field. Niche communities especially provide a place for people who are heavily invested in the industry. You can find HVAC and IAQ specific groups or pages on almost every major social media platform.
Large online forums, on the other hand, help you find the questions customers have and answers fellow experts provide related to your home service. By giving your own expert answer, you boost your authority and gain impressions for your business. You can also see what other experts have said and reach out to them for networking.
Networking Tips for Professionals
So you know where to go and how to find people to network with online, but what’s the next step? Reaching out to strangers can be intimidating, but it’s necessary for online networking growth. The following tips will help smooth over the process and boost your chances of success.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Before you reach out to someone you want to network with, do your research. See what you can find on their work, job title, roles and hobbies. This will help determine if they’re a good match for networking, and help you find a conversation starter. Making it personal will show that you’re really interested and increase the chance that they respond.
Be Brief at First
Everyone is busy, especially professionals, so keep the initial message short and grateful. This shows that you value their time, and they’ll appreciate the gesture. They’re also more likely to read and respond to a message from a stranger or acquaintance that doesn’t take up as much of their time.
If you’re connecting with someone for a favor or partnership, be straightforward. This will prevent confusion down the line and keep your expectations accurate. Someone is also more likely to say yes if they know exactly what it is you’re asking of them.
Start Networking and Grow Your Business Today
Networking isn’t just for college students and people looking for a job. On the contrary, online networking provides business owners and employees with a plethora of benefits and opportunities that can advance career trajectory, salary and profit margins. These benefits work for home service businesses, large and small, including HVAC contractors.
To take full advantage of all the opportunities available to your business, utilize online networking opportunities. Follow the tips in this article, and you’ll grow your network in no time. If you own or manage an HVAC company, check out our HVAC marketing services to help grow your business further.