The benefits of Networking Online
"Networking is not about just connecting people. It's about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities." -- Michele Jennae
How to build valuable relationships through social media?
Building key relationships online will help you succeed professionally. It surely helped me. Indeed, thanks to my network of social-media contacts, I found three internships, my first job in London and, since starting my events agency and training business in 2014, more than 75% of my clients.
Building relationships offline is essential, but social networking is important too. Use it to build a strong professional network.
Social networking allows us to easily interact with other users and find people with similar interests, thanks to the use of websites and applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.
Through social media and the internet, you can build an online identity, connect and build relationships, acquire knowledge, and share ideas and information without the limitation of time or space.
Here are some tips for maximizing your social networking tools.
Keep relationships alive.
Set your social accounts to send and receive automatic notifications so that you and your contacts will be aware of each other’s activities. However, your most important communications are one-to-one, and they should be done often. Be in touch with your contacts regularly.
Something I do, for example, is when I find an interesting article, I share it with my contacts who I know will enjoy reading it. I usually send it via a friendly email or LinkedIn message. I use this communication as an occasion to catch up on their news and, at the same time, add value for them.
The more connections you have, the more visible you become -- but quality is key.
I recommend listing contacts in an Excel document. Rate your connections with numbers to prioritize the importance of the relationship. Let’s say you want to change career paths and get into the hospitality industry: List the companies in that industry that you’d like to work for. Extend this list to include key contacts within those companies—those are your A-listers (Number 1’s) with whom you want to build relationships. A person you meet on an airplane with whom you exchange contact details but who is not relevant to your current career objectives would be classified lower down the list (maybe a 3). Contact them again at a later stage if an opportunity of mutual interest arises.
Use this document to store useful information about your contacts, including where, when, and how you connected; where they work; details on their interests; and your next steps in developing a relationship with them.
The content you share on social media should be relevant to what you do and the areas you specialize in. Share stories, articles, graphs, news about the company you work for or own, and anything else pertinent or interesting for your network of contacts. You can share your content on all your social media feeds so your connections will see it when they next log in.
But where to share?
Choose your social networks depending on the goals you want to achieve. Think of which networks are most relevant to the industry you work in. My thoughts are that LinkedIn and Twitter are more for information sharing and have a more “professional” look than Instagram and Facebook, where you can be more creative and playful with your content. For example, if you work in finance, then LinkedIn and Twitter would probably be the main tools you would use. If you are a freelance designer, then maybe Instagram and Facebook would be best. Depending on your line of work and the nature of the content, the choice of social media to use will differ.
For years, I accepted mostly all LinkedIn connection invites I received, congratulating myself as the contacts stacked up. But because of all those strangers in there, I found myself in the tongue-tied situation of having one person I didn’t know asking me to introduce them to another person I didn’t know. Connect to people you have met, whom you know well enough to feel confident introducing to others in your network, and whom you are interested in learning from.
If you haven’t already, create a page for
your business. This should be separate from your personal page, but you should invite your existing friends list to follow your business page to get it going.
On my Facebook professional page, I
advertise the services I offer—including
posting photos and videos. I also “like”
and share the Facebook posts of others I’m connected with. Your business page reflects your company. If you are going to use Facebook, be active by sharing content regularly.
Twitter is mainly used to share content and to make your professional presence more visible.