When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004, he was essentially establishing an online community with the sole purpose of networking with other Harvard students.
Now, look at him.
Zuckerberg proved that no matter who you are, it is possible to start a community.
I learned the same thing when I started the Linked 2 Leadership group on LinkedIn in May 2008. Today, the group has 22,000 plus members and attracts 150 new professionals every week. It’s has become apparent to me that social media is an essential tool for business success.
But perhaps, more importantly I’ve learned that everyone — on a basic level — has the need to belong to some form of a community.
The Benefits of Online Networking
Looking back, I wish the online network for professionals, LinkedIn, was available when I first started out in the business world. When I initially heard of LinkedIn in August 2006, I immediately joined.
I realized that LinkedIn offered plenty of benefits:
1. Access to a wealth of knowledge and resources
2. Opportunities to connect directly with professionals
3. Forums to acquire and exchange information
Ultimately, I realized I could use LinkedIn to build a network of people to help me down the line. I decided to use the online networking site for professionals to improve my visibility, reputation, and credibility with like-minded professionals who share similar goals.
The Power of Online Communities
Once you join an online networking site (i.e. LinkedIn, Ning, etc.) it’s important to position yourself as a constant provider of information and resources.
For many, the Internet has proven to be the easiest and cheapest way to develop a social community. But it is important that you start out by serving the needs of your community in a way that aligns with your company’s resources, skills, and culture.