Basically networking over the online space is just the same as connecting with someone offline. The online space offers two advantages. You don’t have to deal with the person face to face and you can make a connection irrespective of time zone, geography, industry etc.
Make sure you have a great profile
When you are connecting with someone online on email or through social media, be sure that your online profile is great. Right from your email address itself to your social media cover page and content. An email ID that reads firstname.lastname@example.org is so much better than email@example.com. Sure enough you created that email when you were a teen but it wont work when you want to connect with a business leader. No funny and amusing images on your twitter and any place that is publicly accessible. Show value in your profile. Clearly elucidate who you are in your profile. Also put your interests and hobbies because this is social media!
Find your connections
Whether it is LinkedIn or twitter, find the people you want to connect to, follow and say it is great to follow. Participate in meaningful conversations and add value whenever possible. The person may choose not to respond to you but what is the harm in trying. Business leaders who use social media seriously do respond whenever possible. Perseverance is important. Stay relevant and meaningful.
Find common connections
Again, this is an advantage with online networking. You can find common connections and this will help you strike a conversation much easier. You will be more readily welcomed.
Ask for a meeting
An online connection is just that – someone who you know over LinkedIn. Take the relationship offline, to make it really meaningful. Ask for a meeting and follow up genuinely.