social media how to Do you want to quickly find and meet contacts related to your industry?

Are you looking for ways to establish a long-term relationship with those connections?

It can be tough to make first contact without coming on too strong.

But if you engage with someone before you pitch and let them get to know you a little bit, you have a better chance of creating a solid relationship.

In this article I’ll show you four ways you can use social media to meet market influencers and expand your network.

Why Social Networking?

Even if you live in the middle of nowhere (like me) you can build a network of influential colleagues. How great is it that we live in a time where you can meet anyone from anywhere without leaving the comfort of your office?

The usual networking methods still apply, of course: attending conferences, joining or starting mastermind groups and meeting friends of friends.

But social media opens a larger sphere of opportunity.

Below I show you how Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—and a combination thereof—ensure your first interaction with a potential connection is a lasting one.

#1: Leverage Your Facebook Connections

Given that half a billion people use Facebook, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to find networking opportunities there.

To start your search, use Facebook’s graph search to find potential friends by using the People I May Know option. This works best if you already have business contacts on Facebook.

facebook open graph

Search for influencers in your market with Facebook’s Open Graph.

When you find someone interesting, see who your mutual friends are and use that as leverage to explain to them why you should connect. Don’t be afraid to ask a mutual friend for an introduction.

If you’re not comfortable messaging someone you don’t know (or don’t want to risk your message ending up in the Other folder), then follow them or like their business page and interact with them there.

Take advantage of Facebook groups. They provide a more open forum to introduce yourself as part of the group and an opportunity to show that you have something in common.

Now that you’ve made some new Facebook contacts, it’s easier to connect with them on other networks like LinkedIn, because you’ve already established a relationship.

#2: Add Value to LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn is tailor-made for professional networking. Profiles are important, of course, but LinkedIn groups are key to meeting influencers in your market.

LinkedIn suggests groups to you based on the experience you showcase in your profile. These suggestions are a good place to start your search for new contacts. You can also search for specific people or find groups related to a keyword.

linkedin group

Search for relevant LinkedIn groups for new networking opportunities.

Groups give you access to like-minded professionals and market influencers in your niche. When you join, become a valuable asset by asking thoughtful, relevant questions and answering those of others.

When you’ve established a relationship with members via the group, they’ll usually be more than happy to connect with you because they are familiar with you, your expertise and the value you can bring to them.

#3: Harness the Power of the Retweet

It’s not too hard to network on Twitter because it’s easy to find people and jump right into a conversation or chat.

It doesn’t matter if someone has more followers than you. Chances are they’re happy to meet you and are just as interested in networking as you are.

Don’t be shy! Ask questions or comment on a recent tweet. Retweeting someone’s content or starting a conversation around it can open doors you didn’t even know existed.


Retweets are an easy way to meet new contacts on Twitter.

As long as you’re adding value to the discussion, it’s likely that person will reply (or maybe even follow you).

#4: Mix It Up

You’re more likely to hear back from someone if you reach out to them on multiple social sites. Don’t get discouraged if you have to try to engage a few times.

mix of social network icons

Reach out on multiple platforms, but don’t go overboard. Image source:

We all get buried in email, Facebook notifications and Twitter alerts. Be mindful that it may take a while for someone to respond.

If he or she doesn’t get back to you in a few hours, don’t keep following up; allow some time. There is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. Know that boundary.

That’s not to say following up is bad. I once had a fan ask me to watch one of his videos. Since we had connected before, I was familiar with him, and I thought his request was reasonable.

But my busy schedule got in my way and I didn’t get around to watching it. He followed up again with a reminder, and I appreciated it. But then he followed up four more times and the boundary was crossed.

Some Final Thoughts…

Networking through social media is a great way to build up your professional contacts and essential to growing your network.

Nearly everyone has a social outlet they use regularly. Finding and connecting with influencers on those outlets gives you both a chance to get to know one another without the hard sell.

Networking is an ongoing process, but each key person in your network can change your future. Take time to find that person today!

What do you think? How have you used social platforms to start a conversation? What networks have helped you build your circles and make connections? Leave a comment with your experience or advice.

Images from iStockPhoto.
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  • brooke

    I think these are valuable tips, I do think beyond the groups aspect of LinkedIn just connecting with individuals and asking for an informational interview about their job and their knowledge on an industry can be very valuable. Due to the nature of LinkedIn in easily presenting your credentials and resume, anyone you reach out to can quickly switch over to see why you’re interested in connecting and are far more likely to respond than other outlets. It’s been an incredible tool for getting individuals on the phone and offering insights into how to break into the industry for me as well as opening doors to being passed on to other important people they think I should talk to.

  • manoj sharma

    Very helpful tips . thanks for sharing . I think social media is very effective approach to built strong relationship , sharing our thoughts , getting others views and making new friends wise thousands of benefits from social media ..

  • It’s amazing to think about how people used to “network” before the internet (and social media) age!

  • Andrey

    Great tips for business networking. Thanks for sharing, Jaime!

  • This is what social media is about! Being SOCIAL. I know it can be used for marketing and such, but I think sometimes we forget that it is best used to make friends!

  • eventualmillionaire

    Thanks Andrey!

  • eventualmillionaire

    No kidding! Since I lived in the middle of nowhere it was one of my only outlets to make friends! 🙂

  • At twitter it is hard for beginners to connect with some famous bloggers. But it is experienced that people like to connect with new bloggers. May be they can get some idea from them. And being a blogger it is necessary to increase the circle.

  • eventualmillionaire

    I have clients use it a lot for researching new markets and getting feedback from potential customers. It’s awesome!

  • Where do you live Jaime?

  • Venkat

    Great points to note… I used to think these are wasting our valuable time. But your points are worth to follow.

  • In my opinion using Google+ is really important to build up connections with the readers. Though I haven’t use Google+ a lot. But after figured about its high relationship building quality I am surely going to give a hit to it.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great tips!

    I use Twitter and LinkedIn. I love Twitter chats and participating in LinkedIn Groups. I have a couple of Facebook Groups, but I still see FB as a “social network” in terms of staying in contact with family, friends, former elementary and high school chums, etc. I know, I know. Facebook is great for business. But… It doesn’t have a “business” feel to it. The social network is supposed to be going in different directions, and I can’t wait to see what Mark and his team develop.

  • Add value to EVERY conversation, and make it a CONVERSATION vs a one-sided RANT.

    Glad to see you are responding to some of the comments, Ms Tardy, and like your handle, Eventual Millionaire!

  • Eric Allan Ogera

    very insightful, will definitely try some of those tips. Thanks.

  • I use all 3 mentioned. I thought to try Google+, but have not had any success with that sight. Seems to me more like photo sharing than discussion.

  • Sudesh Bali

    Very practical and step by step advice to expand your network on social media. I liked it immensely. Thanks Ms. Jamie Tardy.

  • Don’t forget to offline network as well to build really solid relationships that pay-off online.

  • Nick Barghini

    The retweet thing could not be more spot- on. For better or worse people are often hesitant to connect in any meaningful way unless they see that you can provide some value; be it mental, emotional, or even financial. I have had success connecting via Twitter not by randomly retweeting posts by everyone that I’d like to connect with, but by making a conscious effort to show that I appreciate a post whereas I might have just thought about it in my head previously (thoughts into action :)). People appreciate genuine, honest feedback! I know I do.

  • Austin Waugh

    Great Post and Nice Article.I had never know about this….I like it.Thanks for Sharing.

    Social Media Marketing Agency