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Global Networking for Professional Success: How To Facilitate Meaningful Connections Online

November 9, 2023
Zoom screen of global networkers in an online meeting

Networking is an incredibly powerful tool for growing your knowledge and experience, as well as for opening avenues to future opportunities. Quality networking isn’t just beneficial for helping you find a job. You can also gain new insights into your industry and learn from people who have fresh perspectives in your field.

In the modern economy, successful leaders require a global outlook, education, and network. In many professions, you can benefit from extending your network internationally rather than just focusing on local connections. You might establish a professional relationship that leads to an international relations career or helps you discover new vendors and contractors to work with.  

Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly global, with 60% of U.S. and U.K. companies growing their number of international workers as they seek out top talent. Not only could you meet an international employer through global networking, but you could also meet an American-based employee with a global reach.

Regardless of your goals, networking provides value. It supports your professional development goals by engaging with new ideas and helps you learn from your peers and superiors. It is used across a wide range of professional areas, from consulting and marketing to finance and project management. However, your efforts need to be authentic if you want to form meaningful connections. Use this guide to ensure your networking efforts are effective so you can benefit from them in the future. 

1. Personalize Communications

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with networking is sending form emails and impersonal, carbon copy messages to everyone you want to meet. This can hamper the number of people who respond to your messages and prevent future communication.

Get to know each person you plan to reach out to and craft a unique message to introduce yourself. Research accomplishments, company history, and job history to get to know your connections before talking to them.

While you can certainly develop an introduction template to speed up this process, you want to make sure each message is unique. This will increase your chances of recipients reading and responding to your notes. 

2. Make Your Goals Clear

The average person receives more than 100 emails per day. They spend their workday reviewing these messages, attending meetings, reading texts, and responding to chat messages. That’s a lot of communication that you need to compete with. 

When you reach out to a new potential connection, make your message stand out. Clearly state your goals and intentions at the beginning of the message so your reader can understand what you want. This is the most important information. From there, you can add supporting paragraphs that provide more details and information about you and your needs. 

An unclear, rambling message will lose the attention of the reader and cause them to delete or ignore your note. 

3. Be Professional and Engaging

Your word choice and tone will play a significant role in how people engage with your message. If your wording is too formal, you might seem overly serious or pretentious. However, overly familiar conversations can be off-putting, flippant, or even disrespectful. Avoid making assumptions about the individual you are messaging and aim for a tone that conveys the extent to which you value their time.

Try to strike a balance between professional communication that is also inviting. Avoid humor, text speak, and emojis until you really know the person you are trying to reach out to. 

One of the best resources to learn better professional communication is your own inbox. See which messages you respond positively to and consider why that is. You can also model your messages after those that you like.

4. Ask a Question as a Conversational Hook

Along with stating your goals, you can also help your reader take action by asking a question. This gives them something to actively respond to based on the message. Here are a few examples of pairing goal-stating with questions: 

  • I am looking to grow my professional network. Would you like to chat about our industry sometime? 
  • Our company provides high-quality marketing services. Would you be interested in learning how our services can help you? 
  • I was impressed by your presentation at the conference last week. Would you mind answering a few follow-up questions I had?

Each of these hooks can either engage the reader in what you want or alert them that the connection might not be a good fit. You might still get a response if your email is professional and personalized but a bad fit, which means you could tap into that connection in the future. 

5. Be Considerate of Others’ Time

Your recipients aren’t on-call and waiting eagerly to respond to you. It might take several hours or even days before your message is read. Furthermore, your potential connections might not have much time to give to you. That’s OK. You might connect with someone virtually now and speak with them in the future. 

Try to keep your messages short and to the point. This means your reader uses less time and energy to respond to them. Also, be careful of what you are asking. Not everyone has time for an hour-long call. 

As a tip, you can actively state that you respect your reader’s time in the message. This shows you are considerate even if you’re asking something from the recipient. 

6. Always Be Mindful of Your Public and Professional Image

Focus on your tone, word choice, and goals with each message you send. Remember you are speaking to experts in your industry who could someday impact your career path. 

Specifically, don’t get angry if someone fails to respond or denies your request to connect. They might have good reasons for not being able to network with you. Also, remember you are seeking professional connections, not romantic ones. A staggering 91% of women have received “romantic advances or inappropriate messages” at least once on LinkedIn.   

7. Use Social Media as an Asset

In the same way that you research professional connections before reaching out to them, these recipients will also research you. They will likely look at your LinkedIn profile, website, and other social media channels to learn about your expertise. 

Social media can be a useful networking tool. Clean up your channels and use them to reflect your business experience and goals. Share industry insights and ideas with your followers. This way, when potential connections look at your online presence, they’re impressed by what you put out there. 

8. Always Follow Up

If you don’t receive a response to your message, follow up to make sure the person you want to connect with sees it. People are often busy and inundated with messages, which means yours might get lost in a packed inbox.

It can be tricky to know how soon you should follow up. If you message someone again too soon, they might get annoyed because they simply haven’t had time to respond to your note. However, if you wait too long, the recipient might have forgotten who you are.

Try to follow up within three to five business days of your original message. This is a fair window for someone to go through their inbox and find time to respond to you. These follow-up messages show that you want to connect with the person you reached out to.  

9. Provide Clear Contact Options

As you wrap up your message, make it clear how you want your recipient to reach out to you. If you want them to call you, include your phone number. If you want to transition your message to email, add your contact information. 

Know that everyone communicates differently and some people don’t want to schedule a call or text a professional contact. One option to accommodate your potential connections is to provide multiple contact options for them to choose from. 

10. Be Mindful of Different Cultural Norms and Expectations

Different cultures have different forms of communication. Some can be more blunt while others are indirect as a form of politeness. The amount of small talk can also vary by culture. 

You don’t need to be an expert on every culture across the globe, but you can take steps to be responsive in an inclusive way. For example, you could try to mimic others’ writing styles to help them feel more comfortable. You can also learn about specific cultures if you find yourself networking with people from a particular region of the globe. 

Effective networking requires thoughtful communication, regardless of the recipient. Carefully craft your messages and consider the needs and goals of the people you reach out to. When you respect your recipients, they are more likely to respond and respect you.