Networking with other people in your industry is a great way to improve your knowledge, connect with leaders, and find new career opportunities. Traditionally, industry conferences, summits, and other events have been the best places to put yourself out there and meet new people, gaining new contacts and strengthening your professional connections.
Social media has revolutionized networking though, making it possible to connect with people all over the world without having to attend in-person events. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful tools for expanding and deepening your professional connections through social networking, but it can really differ depending on different industries and skill sets.
Networking social media sites requires a different approach to networking in person, as you don't have that face-to-face, real-time contact with someone. But social media profiles are accessible 24/7, so it's important not to just dive in head first. Take some time to go in with the right approach and see your social networking relationships grow.
Follow these tips to optimize your efforts on social network websites.
Do your research: What is networking in social media?
Who are you appealing to? Where do they hang out online? Ask yourself who you want to network with, and put some time into finding out which social media platforms they use most. LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular sites for business professionals, but every industry and profession can be different.
While LinkedIn is designed specifically for business professionals, consider how other platforms such as Instagram or even TikTok can be used to develop valuable contacts. Pay attention to the way people present themselves online, how they engage, and what kind of content and comments they share on their social nets and apps.
How can I improve my social media network?
Take a look at your existing network, social media profiles in particular. What image do they present to the world? Could it be improved?
If your LinkedIn profile paints you in a very professional light, but your Facebook page is full of old photos from college parties, and your Twitter is all reposting memes, you're giving off an inconsistent message about who you are. It may be time to consider changing your Facebook privacy settings or untagging yourself from public photos. Of course, having authenticity is key, but there's a line between portraying yourself as relatable or just oversharing.
If you use social media to expand your professional network and develop your career opportunities, you need to present a consistent version of yourself online. Review all of your accounts with a critical eye and start to think about how and whether they can be improved according to who you're looking to connect with on social networking sites and apps.
Build a presence
Make any necessary changes to your social media profiles, and start getting active. Post and share content like blog posts, engage in online communities, and participate in discussions. Some people use social media to lurk and never comment or engage, and their profiles tend to look like a wasteland, with no fresh content or activity.
If you're using your profile for social media marketing, you need to actively participate. Your activity log should be full of recent interactions, and your page or profile should have fresh, relevant content.
Post engaging content
Post and share engaging content to attract the right people to your page and to communicate what you're interested in, what you're doing, and who you're looking to connect with. Focus on quality over quantity. You want to entice people to comment and react, not push people away by filling up their newsfeed with posts one after another. No one likes that. And while it's okay to share things you're proud of, avoid too much self-promotion.
Facebook and LinkedIn have a huge number of community groups you can join to participate in and connect with people who have a shared interest or purpose. Search for and join groups that are relevant to your interests and use these communities to meet and connect with new people. Make sure to always read and respect the community guidelines of the groups you join though.
Reach out to people
Reaching out to people directly is the most straightforward way of networking and connecting with new business contacts. Take advantage of your existing social networks and ask mutual contacts for introductions. Be prepared to repay the favor though.
It's okay to reach out to people you've never met, too. Just be transparent and let them know why you’d like to connect with them. Asking people for advice or congratulating them on an achievement is a great way to reach out. Keep it simple, avoid complaining and self-promotion.
Try LinkedIn first
Some social media platforms were made for sharing creative content, or connecting with friends, so it can be a little daunting to start using them for networking.
LinkedIn is purpose-built for professional networking, and lends itself perfectly to making new business connections.
Start with LinkedIn first to get familiar with the idea of networking on social media. Then, transfer what you learned and begin experimenting with other platforms. Soon enough you'll get your ideal job through the power of social networking!