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Digital Networking & How to Build Relationships on Screen

Studies show the importance of personal relationships in career advancement and business leadership over the usual ‘hard skills’ associated with technical knowledge and field expertise.

In this regard, the concept of networking has taken a whole new dimension with the introduction of online platforms that have both the power and the simplicity to allow professionals and colleagues to connect with each other almost instantly.

That said, digital networking goes beyond sending a follow-up email after meeting to re-engage with the other side, as the value of networking lies in its potential to connect interests, hobbies, viewpoints, and projects through the intentional development of a meaningful professional relationship.

The question would be, then: Which strategies have proven to be the most successful when it comes to digital networking? Throughout the following article, we will expand on this topic to identify some interesting strategies you can employ to improve your digital networking skills in order to build better on-screen relationships.

The Limitations of Traditional Networking

The purpose of networking is to build relationships with potential allies whose interests are aligned with ours, even though the ultimate purpose of the relationship may not be necessarily clear at the beginning of it. Many times, the term networking has been associated with the practices outlined by Dale Carnegie in his time-tested relationship-building best selling book “How to Win Friends & Influence People”.

But rather than having a “Machiavellic” approach, the relational bonds between peers should be considered soft assets that the business owner can take advantage of with a win-win scenario.

Meanwhile, traditional networking is somehow limited to physical encounters that are not necessarily possible at all times, even though phone calls and letters were available before the internet came in to change the whole thing.

This natural limitation is what makes digital networking such an interesting trend, as it leaves behind the usual obstacles of building close relationships with people who may be otherwise unreachable by bringing everybody closer through IT platforms.

Benefits & Disadvantages of Digital Networking

There are many ways you can build an online-based networking strategy. Most of them contemplate the use of popular tools and platforms such as social media, e-mail, WhatsApp, and video chat apps to engage with peers. Even though this is an interesting approach to networking, it has some pros and cons you should be aware of.


  • The internet eliminates the natural obstacle of physical distance.
  • Face-to-face chats are possible by using any of the available platforms designed for that purpose.
  • It provides flexibility to the relationship as it is easier to modify details of the encounters by using online scheduling tools.
  • The cost is significantly lower compared to the expensive traditional networking alternatives such as participating in summits.
  • It reduces the formality of the encounters which facilitates the creation of a friendlier bond compared to the more formal traditional networking events.
  • Transparency may be an issue as physical distance and impersonal relationships reduce the tension of “keeping things real”.
  • There’s a personal touch that can only be conveyed in a face-to-face meeting, including potentially reading non-verbal language from the person on the other side of the table.
  • Captivating the other person’s attention through a follow-up e-mail after meeting or a direct message on LinkedIn is not as easy as approaching that person physically to say “hello”.


Tips to Build Better Online Relationships

If you are looking to build meaningful online relationships, you can follow some of these recommendations:

  • Personalize your first approach. Find out who that person is, his interests, activities, and personalize your introduction by adding further personal details that convey the fact that you are genuinely interested in getting to know him.
  • Ask questions. Find ways to get to know the other side much better so you can understand which goals you share or what links your activities.
  • Focus on the value of establishing a connection. It is far easier to get someone’s attention if they see a shared interest or an upside to connect and start talking.

Have you tried a digital networking strategy? Have you been able to build meaningful relationships with peers and colleagues online? Leave a comment if you wish to tell me more about your experience with digital networking.

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