Dog Blog 38.0 – Social Media – Networking that Works
We will come right out and say it – we’re not big fans of networking events
Unless it features an interesting speaker or the opportunity to learn something new, a networking event usually means there’s a bunch of strangers crowded into a room eating bland appetizers and making stilted conversations. When everyone attends for the same reason (to gain new business opportunities), how are you supposed to make any headway?
The good news is that it’s 2018, so you don’t have to worry about all of the awkwardness that comes with a networking event. While they do present the chance for you to meet people in your industry, catch up with old cohorts, and even expand your knowledge on what your competition is up to, networking events can be pretty dreadful. On the other hand, social media is a great tool to gain referrals, feedback, and new opportunities. Here’s how to use it to your advantage!
Pick Your Platform – LinkedIn is one of the best resources for professional networking. Facebook also features many professional groups, or try joining in on Twitter conversations. To participate, first locate a chat through a variety of helpful websites, including TweetReports or Twubs. Then you will use a designated hashtag that identifies the chat and lets you participate in the live conversation. Another option is to host your own Twitter chat and register your hashtag to gain more participants.
Show Your Expertise – Start by joining a few professional groups and see what kind of topics and discussions the members have over the course of a few days. Then it’s time to participate! Join in a discussion, start one of your own, or even share an article you’ve written (that showcases your expertise on the matter, of course)!
Make the Connection – Once you’ve browsed through select groups and conversations, it’s time to establish a connection with a high-level networker, also known as an HLN. An HLN is a person that is continuously active online, has over 500 connections, and keeps up-to-date with their profile. It might seem bold to send an invite to someone you don’t know (especially if they are an executive or a mover and shaker in your industry), so just remain honest about why you’re trying to establish a connection. Take the time to scribe a tailored message that includes the person’s name, some information you’ve learned about them, a brief overview of your services, and the reason why you’d like to build a relationship.
What to Avoid – If you were at an actual networking event, we’re pretty sure you’d try to avoid the person who assertively approaches every single person in the room and engages in an endless one-way conversation about their business. The same goes for online networking. While it’s perfectly fine to reach out to individuals, you don’t want to overstep your boundaries. Don’t pester them with dozens of messages or requests. Also, it’s best not to send out generic group messages. Not only is it unprofessional, but it also looks lazy on your part.
While we’re not trying to knock networking events, using social media as your main networking tool has endless benefits. Not only is it easy and convenient, but it lets you have a little more control over the flow of the conversation. Make it your goal in 2018 to expand your circle of associates!