I can honestly say that the backbone of my business has been Networking. The old fashion type. Breakfast meetings, lots of lunches, receptions and community events. Attending these events shaped my social understanding within the framework of business. It really groomed me from an introverted and awkward entrepreneur into a confident and social business person.
The act of meeting complete strangers from totally different backgrounds has a way of jolting you quickly to prep mode. Thus, I value networking and the role it plays in both personal development and business growth.
Why is Networking Important?
Networking is an important aspect of business development because “no man is an island.” No matter how knowledgeable you are in your field as you navigate in the world of business others will be needed. Whether it’s to bounce ideas, offer recommendations or mentor.
Many jobs and opportunities aren’t posted. In today’s ever-expanding market, we at times don’t know we need a service, a consultant, or a product until we see it or meet the person offering it. Thus, networking provides a great opportunity to get in front of people and get noticed. Networking helps in the following areas:
- Meet new people that can provide you client/customer referrals
- Vendor and other business recommendations
- Build Relationships with people you can support and who can offer you support in return
- Provides opportunities and new markets
- Create Collaborations & Partnerships
- Navigating red tape and other logistical roadblocks
But in an age where people are spending more time behind their computers than they are spending at after work events or networking events, how does one craft these meaningful relationships in the days of social media? A time when many think liking someone’s post fits under the umbrella of connecting. Or the sharing of a business flyer is sufficient to stay top of mind in someone’s memory? How do you network effectively in these modern times of social media and technology? How does someone like me who’s more familiar with the traditional forms of in-person interactions, make the best of social media in the networking sphere? Below are four tips to help you make the best of your online networking utilizing various social media platforms.
LinkedIn is Your Friend
LinkedIn is not the most popular social media networking platform, but if you are a business, professional, entrepreneur or industry expert of any kind (technology, art, writing, marketing, etc) You need to be on the site.
Linked in offers you the ability to promote yourself as a professional, get hired, and is a great way to get noticed. It offers you the ability to position yourself as an industry expert in your area.
The fact that LinkedIn is a professional network, it makes it easier to connect with other professionals, as everyone has a business mindset. Sending someone a message regarding connecting, won’t seem creepy.
LinkedIn also provides the affinity groups, which really allows you to connect with like-minded industry leaders and stay on top of your industry.
Facebook Groups and Fan Pages
Facebook is still the most popular social media networking platform. Use it. Facebook started off as the platform to keep in touch with family and friends. As you develop your business and entrepreneurial endeavors, it’s important to step out of that. Beyond your personal profile consider creating a business and/or fan page. This will provide you access to people that either already use your services or potential clients/customers.
If they are on your page that means there is something that you provide that interest them. Take advantage of this opportunity to not simply promote your products, but to position yourself as the leader and expert in your field. Both on your page and other group pages, answer questions. Offer tips and advice. The best way to sell these days is to offer information. It allows people see your knowledge and puts them at ease for when they are ready to spend money with you, they can be confident in your ability.
Go Ahead Retweet
Retweeting is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get noticed on Twitter. However, you don’t want to simply retweet. A tweet with your comment attached to what you appreciated or a special shout out, will always get noticed. “Loved XYZ’s nouveau age perspective on global warming” followed by the retweet, shows you were paying attention and you are a fan. The person is more likely to notice and respond.
Interact on Instagram
With all social media platforms, the key is interaction. Simply posting your own content won’t cut it if you want to develop a valuable network. Instagram can prove to be a very self-centered platform if you are not careful. But there are tons of opportunities for interaction. Answer people’s comments under your pictures. Visit other pages, especially for people who offer similar products or services. See what comments people are making under their posts. Do their fans have questions? If you can provide answers in a non-“I’m here to get the following sort of way”, you will get some new fans and meet some new people. People pay attention to people who have answers. Offer your answers.
Instagram stories also provide another great way to network. Do you want to collaborate with someone on a shoot, project, event? answer one of their IG stories. It goes right into their inbox!
Understand that the same rules apply to social media as they do in the non-cyber space. In order to build deep meaningful professional relationships, you have to engage and offer support. Once you can command the respect as an authority in your field on social media, while offering valuable information and insight to both your fans and potential business partners, you will be the sought after person to collaborate and connect with.