Many job seekers overlook the importance of online networking skills during their job search. Networking isn’t just about clicking the “follow” or “connect” button. A beneficial networking relationship is born out of a strong interest in gaining valuable information and feedback from someone you consider to be important in your industry.

It is important to look at online networking as a special tool to engage with individuals that you might not have been able to be in contact with at one point. Here are five ways to improve your online networking capabilities:

1. Be Confident

While this sounds like a no-brainer, there are many individuals who lack the necessary level of confidence that generates a clear connection during online networking. Many individuals subconsciously overlook the importance of a positive confident attitude when it comes to networking. Confidence isn’t just necessary for the face-to-face networking that takes place at conferences and seminars, it’s also imperative for successful online marketing. 

To put it plainly, your online brand depends on your confidence. Knowing who you are and what you want professionally will allow both clarity and confidence in the way you interact with others. Building your knowledge and passion for your field is one simple step to gain more self-confidence. This will express to others that you’re invested and articulate.

2. Utilize Social Networking Sites Properly

Just because you have a LinkedIn or Twitter account doesn’t necessarily mean you’re utilizing it to effectively build a professional social network worth bragging about. While 61 percent of individuals use LinkedIn as their primary professional networking site, only 42 percent of users update their profile information regularly. How are you supposed to communicate your experiences and skills to those you’re looking to connect with if your profile isn’t updated? Fluidity can be generated by aligning your personal brand both on and offline.

As for getting the most out of the social networking sites of your choosing, when was the last time you used any of their features to actually connect with someone new or reconnect with a long lost contact? If you can’t answer this question, it might be time to update yourself on the latest features offered on the platform. Staying up-to-date on the latest features will allow you to interact properly while building online relationships. 

3. Learn How To Stalk Professionally

While this does sound a little creepy, one of the most beneficial parts of networking online is the ability to learn more about the people you are interested in connecting with. Some call this stalking, others call it researching. Get to know the people you’re connecting with online, and use the information you gain to fuel the building blocks of the professional relationship you’re attempting to create. You might find out that a person you’re connecting with has previously worked with one of your close contacts–create a warm-up conversation based on this knowledge! The ability to research online connections will also benefit you in face-to-face networking situations where you will be prepared to communicate knowledge based on the intersection of your interests.

4. Increase Online Interactions

Don’t just be a profile picture. If you’re less than satisfied with the success of your online networking, it might be helpful to look for new ways to interact with others while attempting to build networking connections. 

Try setting new personal goals for the amount of people you attempt to make connections within a period of time. If your interaction strategy of comments, retweets, and/or replies isn’t driving the level of feedback you were hoping for, mix it up. Trying something new, like commenting on industry-specific blogs, might gain a level of interaction that drives networking connections. Also, don’t forget to give props to others–this is a sure-fire way to gain the appropriate attention of others.

5. Transfer Online Connections To Offline Connections

While it might not be physically possible to take all of your online networking connections out for coffee, it certainly is possible to attempt to meet the majority of them in-person. The power of face-to-face networking is unmatched and something that will hopefully never go out of style.

Reach out to your online networking connections when you know that either of you will be in the same area for any kind of reason. This could mean meeting up at conference, seminars, or even while on a work-related trip. A face-to-face connection will take a networking relationship to the next level. 

Have you found online networking to be beneficial in your job search? Share in the comments below!