Do This, Not That: Social Networking Tips by Amy Wunderlich
Networking, Personal Branding, Social Media

Do This, Not That: Social Networking Tips

The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Whether you live by that mantra or not, one thing is true: the more professional connections you make, the greater positive impact it can have on your career. In the digital world we live in, networking has never been easier or more convenient. You no longer need to leave your home to converse with like-minded professionals. Anyone you want to meet is just a click away online. Although increasingly popular, this digital method of networking has its own set of (unofficial) rules and etiquette to follow.

 

LinkedIn

With more than 467 million users, LinkedIn is by far the most powerful professional social network available. The following are a few tips for using LinkedIn to network.

  • Do: Search for industry professionals to connect with. Write a personalized message to increase the chance of your connection request being accepted.
  • Don’t: Use the same message or greeting when connecting with new people on LinkedIn. Tailor your message to the individual you’re connecting with.
    • Example: “Hi John – I really enjoyed the blog you wrote on engineering. I’d love to connect. – Thanks, Sara Johnson”
  • Do: Message your new connections to thank them for connecting.
  • Don’t: Immediately message a new connection asking them for a favor OR trying to sell them something. Focus on building a relationship first. Always offer something before asking for something.
  • Do: Join LinkedIn groups and share relevant industry content within those groups to start a conversation. Make sure you check back to respond to any comments on your post.
  • Don’t: Spam LinkedIn groups with content. Share content 1-2 times weekly, depending on how active the group is.
  • Do: Interact with your network by commenting on posts you find interesting.
  • Don’t: Interact with non-professional posts; your connections will be able to see any posts you like or comment on.
  • Do: Engage your network by sharing curated or original industry content.
  • Don’t: Share only self-promoting posts. Focus on sharing content that your connections will find interesting and useful.
  • Do: Use your expertise to share your thoughts or opinions on a topic within your industry.
  • Don’t: Share your opinions on controversial topics, like religion or politics. (Unless your professional industry is within the religious or political sectors).

 

Twitter

Often overlooked for professional use, Twitter harnesses the power to immediately and informally connect with anyone. See below for best practices on using Twitter to network.

  • Do: Search relevant hashtags to find like-minded industry professionals to follow.
  • Don’t: Follow private accounts. In many cases, this means their account isn’t for professional use and/or they might only want to connect with people they know, in real life.
  • Do: Interact with your followers by asking or answering questions.
    • Tip: Try using the poll feature on Twitter to gain intel on any questions you have. The responses are anonymous, so your followers are more likely to take your poll.
  • Don’t: Share controversial posts on Twitter, unless your account is private and/or not for professional use.
  • Do: Use relevant hashtags in your tweets so other professionals in your industry can find and follow you.
  • Don’t: #Use #too #many #hashtags. Stick to 2-3 hashtags per tweet.
  • Do: Search event hashtags to follow and engage with attendees of any events you will be attending.
    • Tip: Tweet attendees to plan to meet in person at the event.
      • Example: “Hey @JohnSmith23583, I see you’re also attending #Inbound17. We have similar backgrounds. I’d love to meet up at the conference!”
    • Don’t: Tweet the same message to everyone at the event. If your Twitter account is public, anyone can see your tweet. Personalize your message as best you can in 140 characters.

 

Facebook

Due to its stringent privacy settings, networking on Facebook can be tough. Many people use Facebook for personal use rather than professional use. Avoid connecting with someone on Facebook, unless you know them in real life or have connected with them on a different social channel first. Stick to interacting with industry professionals in Facebook groups or on Facebook pages.

 

Live Events

Prefer to keep it “old school”? Attend a live networking event. Meetup and Eventbrite have numerous events in just about every industry, many of them are free. There is something to be said about making a face-to-face, human connection with someone that isn’t quite possible online. Mix it up. Try networking online and then taking it offline to meet in person for coffee or at an event.

Whether online or in person, the key to networking is to listen and offer insight before asking for any favors. Focus on building a relationship with someone first. Always ask what you can offer someone before asking what they can offer you.

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