When I first started as an online freelancer more than 10 years ago, online networking was a pretty much the only way to connect with other business owners and freelancers. Today, there

Today, there are a number of ways to meet and network with other entrepreneurs. Conferences are springing up everywhere, and there are meetups and mastermind groups that allow you to network. Even with this, though, online networking is still an important part of growing your business — especially if you are living the digital life.

As you reach out to others, avoid these online networking mistakes that can drag you down:

1. Excessive Online Stalking

You know that one of the ways to effectively network online is to follow the people you are interested in. However, you also don’t want to cross a line. There’s networking, and there’s online stalking.

Connect on LinkedIn and follow on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Occasionally share something. But watch out for constantly replying at someone or badgering them on multiple platforms. I start to feel annoyed (and sometimes angry) when someone starts pitching me every time I turn around.

2. Focus on the Result

One of the biggest online networking mistakes is being too focused on the result of your interactions, rather than nurturing the relationship. We all hope, when we’re networking, that we will eventually get something out of it. However, if you are focused on the link or mention, or you are always calculating the ROI of a networking interaction, you are missing out on the real point of online networking, which is building relationships.

3. Lack of Personal Branding

Don’t forget that you are networking so that people get to know who you are. This means that you need to make sure that you stand out. Your personal branding makes a difference as you network online. Don’t forget that you latest connection is also networking and meeting other people. Consistently brand yourself by using similar images with your profiles, and by showing how you are different in the way you present yourself.

4. Failure to Show Gratitude

One of the worst online networking mistakes is a failure to show gratitude. You should express gratitude for the efforts others make on your behalf. This can be an extra tweet, or sharing something on Facebook. Invite your connection to be on your podcast or link to them. But don’t forget to send a quick email to thank your connection as well. There are plenty of ways to show gratitude, and you need to make it a point to be grateful to others. When you give back and show gratitude, good things happen.

5. Letting the Relationship Lapse

Maintain your relationships. Be consistent in building your online networking relationships. This doesn’t mean that you have to remain in constant contact, but it does mean that you should check in every once in a while. Touch base so that you remain connected. Offer your help to your connections. This allows you to retain the relationship, and that can benefit both of you down the road.

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I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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