How to Grow Your Business Network With Social Media

social media how to Is your business or company struggling to find new customers?

Do you know how to build your business network on social media?

Before you can sell, you have to create a trusted relationship with your future customer.

In this article, you’ll discover four ways to use social media to find and establish relationships with new prospects and leads for your business.

#1: Join a Conversation on Twitter

Tweet chats are great for person-to-person networking on Twitter and they can act as one of the single best lead generation tools in social media.

You can consult a number of lists to quickly locate chats that are relevant to you. These lists include hashtags and other key information like date, time and the name of the host or owner of the chat.

tweets from #blogchat

A tweet chat example.

The best thing about tweet chats is that while almost everyone starts out a stranger, over time the participants begin to know one another and develop relationships that extend beyond the regularly scheduled chat.

During the chat, you’ll find people who ask questions you can answer. Your replies will be limited to 140 characters, so they’ll need to be as concise as possible. Use the opportunity to let participants know you’re open to accepting a follow and a direct message from them and carrying the conversation further by phone or on another platform.

#2: Participate in LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups hold a lot of opportunity for networking with people who fit your prospect profile.

There’s an easy way to find the groups you are interested in. Hover on Interests in the header navigation and click on Groups. From here, click on More>> in the Groups You May Like box.

From here, use keywords specific to your industry to search for and find groups relevant to your business. You can filter your search results by Relationship, Categories and Languages.

linkedin group search

Use the search function to identify the right groups for you to join.

 Next, check out each of those groups and join one or two that are made up of people who could be interested in what you offer.

This isn’t a place to sell. Be nice, be helpful and focus on providing service to the other members. Answer questions, give advice and share your knowledge.

Pay attention to who likes your posts and comments. Similar to Facebook, you can click on the Like button to see a list of people who have liked your comment.

linkedin likes

Follow the people who like your comments.

Visit the profiles of those folks and see if any of them fit your prospect profile. Follow them on LinkedIn to get to know them better and when the opportunity arises, ask them to connect with you.

Use tags to sort your new contacts into one of two groups—prospects and strategic partners who can refer prospects. The tags will make it easier for you to keep track of the relationships as they evolve.

If there’s not an existing group that fits your needs, create one to network with your current prospects and attract new ones.

#3: Share Insights From an Event

When you attend trade shows or conferences, share the highlights and notes with people who can’t attend and you’ll attract people interested in the same niche.

On Twitter, share your notes in real time with your followers. Use the official event hashtag in your tweets so they are included in the larger conversation, and they’ll be visible to people who don’t follow you. Make sure you pay attention to new follows during this time, as they could well be new prospects for you.

You can accomplish the same goal with your company’s website. A tool such as Storify will help you consolidate your notes into a blog post with a rundown of all of the most important points made during the conference.

storify tweets from an event

This event recap blog post was created using Storify.

Pay attention to the folks who follow along, comment or retweet your information. This is a simple way to surface invisible prospects that you might otherwise miss. Connect with each person on the platform or network that makes the most sense, and when the time is right, reach out and offer your help.

#4: Interview the People You Want to Work With

Use social media video tools for more strategic networking.

Here’s how it works. First you create a list of people with whom you most want to work. Arrange to do a quick interview with each one.

Interview your subjects at industry conferences, launch events, maybe even in an airport during a layover. If you can’t be there in person, arrange to do the interview on a Google+ Hangout, then publish the video to YouTube.

Don’t introduce your own product or service into the equation; rather let your interviewee shine. Ask a question that encourages your subject to showcase his or her own expertise, then turn those interviews into helpful content and share them on your social networks.

Emma, an email marketing service, spent a year gathering interviews from social media influencers and used the content to initiate prospect conversations with numerous social media users.

dj waldow interview image

DJ Waldow being interviewed by email marketing service Emma.

As conversations continued between Emma and a few of the interviewees, some of them became Emma’s customers. Other interview subjects invited Emma to sponsor or have representatives speak at high-profile social media conferences, during which the company was able to increase awareness of its platform.

Interviews help you to build your business network.

Over to You

These four techniques can help you form relationships with people who are interested in what you offer.

As people learn to trust you and your knowledge, your relationships with these people will strengthen. And these people will be more open to buying from you than from someone they have no history with.

What do you think? Have you used any of these tips to meet prospects? What other tips can you share? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing industry and author of The Invisible Sale, who helps companies understand how to leverage social media to Painlessly Prospect for more customers. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    I think that there are very good strategies for getting in touch with people how are interested in the same activity. I would also add Facebook groups on the list, as another way for connecting with people and sharing experience.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Really great techniques! The power of creating trusted relationships with
    people is invaluable and you’ve laid out some great reasons why here.
    The more trust you can build, the more loyalty you’ll find in those who
    are interested in your products and services. Awesome article Tom!

  • https://www.skipandrews.com/ Skip Andrews

    Great suggestions and you may want to include Meetups focused on your intended market by joining and commenting on events as part of your social media marketing mix.

  • http://www.epicenter.mx/ Aaron Nelson

    I enjoyed this article because of the practical advice you gave. Question: I’m interested in exploring the ‘interviewing people you would most want to work with.’

    1. How do you get started – my market would be Human Resource managers/training managers in companies. Do you think they would want to give up 15/20 minutes of their precious time to talk to….a nobody to them? (I’d just be getting started. No audience.)

    2. What’s in it for the interviewee if you don’t have a large audience? (Or none yet.)

    Thanks for your help. Great article.

  • Ferdinand Senior

    These are really great techniques. It does help when you’re not always trying to sell something, people appreciate someone who is genuinely trying to help.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    I participate in a Friday (2 pm EST) Twitter chat, #SciChat, but I’d like to check out others. I’m in LinkedIn groups too.

    My tip is to balance your career with your personal/skill development. For example, if you’re a graphic artist and solely connect with other graphic artists, you may not grow your business. Find chats and groups that your clients/customers participate in throughout the week. Don’t get me wrong. You could receive referrals from other graphic artists, especially if they’re booked. However, if you don’t communicate directly with your clients/customers, you’re missing the opportunity to connect.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Thanks! Appreciate that.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Ahh the power of comments — great add Skip.. probably a few more things I left out too.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Aaron

    When I did TalkingWithTom with Emma I had some level of audience but honestly, not nearly enough (and the site had none to begin with) to actually provide value back to the folks I was interviewing.

    I started out interviewing folks I did know and then would ask for referrals to others I wanted to interview.

    For instance, Chris Brogan (I knew) introduced and vouched for me to Brian Clark (Copyblogger). I interviewed him and he thought it was a great, cool idea.

    He asked if I had interviewed David Meerman Scott. I said I hadn’t, didn’t know David but would love to have him as part of the project.

    Brian made me wait while he went across the room, grabbed David, explained what I was doing and talked David into doing an interview, which he did on the spot.

    It went on like that for a year. You’d be surprised at a) how flattered people are that you want to talk to them (even famous or internet famous people) and b) by others willingness to help you out of pure human kindness.

    Good luck!

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Ferdinand — 100% agree. Funny thing is — I do my best selling when I’m helping ;-)

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Amandah — spot on!! So often we all just talk to our own echo chamber… go where the fish our if you want to eat dinner right?

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Exactly!

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Great article, Tom! I think Twitter chats are definitely my favorite place to connect with industry folks. I participate in a few regularly and am always searching for new ones to join.

    I think LinkedIn Groups are kind of tricky. Some are great, yet others are a mess of spam or self-promoting links.

    Interviewing people is a great idea! That’s such a nice way to start off on a good (complimentary) foot and would be a great foundation for a potential sale later.

  • http://casandracampbell.com/ Casandra

    Great article, Tom. A lot of people talk about how to generate business from social media, but few actually give examples this specific!

    It really is a powerful medium. We can build relationships, expertise, and trust so quickly — it’s shouldn’t surprise anyone when that leads to more business. I’m actually in the process of compiling a series of case studies that show sales that have been made directly as a result of social media.

  • http://www.green-talk.com/ Anna @GreenTalk

    I have been interviewing for over two years various thought leaders in the green field. I just want to caution if you think that it will lead to more business. It depends on who you are interviewing and if they are like minded in networking. Social media people get it. Many don’t.

    The people that I interviewed simply wanted their story told. Kind of like free advertising. They weren’t interested in taking it to the next level.

    However, the benefits of being a thought leader from interviewing can be advantageous and could lead to other business outside of those that you are interviewing.

    If you don’t expect business from those who you are interviewing, you will be fine. I enjoy interviewing.

    Tom, you interviewed 2 really interesting people!

  • winechick

    I would also say – be original, thought provoking, and genuine.
    Participate in conversations that are happening with people who have
    similar interests and those consistent conversations will lead to more
    networking. Twitter is an exceptional tool for this. Social media is not
    a fly by night activity; you have to put in the time to build
    relationships so that people start to connect with you. That’s what it’s
    about in any relationship, right!?

  • http://www.referralcandy.com/ Zach @ ReferralCandy

    I don’t know about Linkedin groups. The ones I’ve been in and seen so far are full of people spamming their own links, or furthering their own agenda.

    But apparently marketers love Linkedin, especially for B2B (62% of marketers find Linkedin effective according to a survey by Contentmarketinginstitute). So I wonder, where are these ‘secret’ super effective groups?

  • http://www.referralcandy.com/ Zach @ ReferralCandy

    Hi Amandah – I’m curious about how others use Linkedin effectively. Do you mind sharing which groups have good quality conversations? I’ve only seen very spammy groups out there!

  • http://www.simplicityadmins.com/ Sarah Santacroce

    ha, funny to see my face in the tweets in tip no 1 ;-) Thanks to Jorge Sanchez for mentioning it to me ! Totally agree with all the tips. I apply mostly 1, 2 and especially 4.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Thanks for the tips Tom.Knowing how to capitalize on your brand’s social media presence is crucial.Social Media can definitely prove very useful for small businesses. Making personal connections with customers plays a vital role in the success of any business but particularly smaller ones.

  • http://nitishdhiman.com/ Nitish Dhiman

    Awesome article Tom thanks for sharing this much appreciated effort !!

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Actually Anna, I interviewed 51 interesting people… truly was one of the best and certainly most fun projects I’ve worked on.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Agree Sarah,

    The LI Groups are hit and miss. Really depends on the moderator. But I’ve certainly seen some nice biz dev potential in a number of groups.

    Twitter Chats still my fav though re: meeting new folks and broad based exposure.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Casandra,

    Would love to see that case study!

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Winechick,

    Yep — social is about building a base for sales tomorrow and many tomorrows.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    I am to please ;-)

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Agree Barbara — social selling scales in a way that offline, traditional networking and selling could never hope to achieve.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Nitish — appreciate the kind words… hope to share a few more here if they’ll keep having me ;-)

  • http://www.green-talk.com/ Anna @GreenTalk

    Tom, that’s great. The point I am making don’t do it simply for the reason of getting business from those that you interview. It can lead to other prospects or other opportunities. Or simply will be fun to do. I enjoy learning from others.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    The best LinkedIn Group I’ve seen is the one from Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing Networking Club. It’s so refreshing to see genuine discussion and collaboration!

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Anna

    Totally agree. Perfect example is Brian Clark. Had never met him prior to interviewing him… but ended up sitting next to him at a dinner (I did all my interviewing at conferences to make it easier) and found out we had a bunch in common.

    Ended up really hitting it off and he’s been such a great supporter ever since. Even opened up a Guest Posting opp on CopyBlogger for me.

    All because I asked him to do a 2 min interview and answer one question — What’s Next.

    Gotta love it!

  • http://paper.li Paper.li

    Hi Tom,

    Nice examples. Tweetchats are one of my favorite ways to network and I love your example of Mack Collier’s #blogchat.

    The one you call out is a special edition of #blogchat that takes place once a month on Tuesdays. It’s helped me meet members of his Sunday chat as well as connect with European marketers, bloggers and businesses.

    So it is kind of an example within an example: 1. tweet chat 2. broken out by geography. Thanks from a happy European marketer :)

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Hi Zach,

    Some of the groups I’m a part of are: LinkEds & writers, LinkedIn for Journalists, World Wildlife Fund, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing Networking Club from Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Media Professionals Worldwide, Peak Potentials Training, and Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations.

    I find groups through blog posts and a Google search, i.e., top 10 LinkedIn groups for writers. I hope this helps.

  • http://www.epicenter.mx/ Aaron Nelson

    Thank you for your reply Tom.

    I’m curious, and I’m not really sure how to word this question, but – how did your interviews line up with your own business objectives? I mean, your interview is to focus on the person you interview, not what your business sells.

    When you finished the interview, did you post it on your website? What was the…angle there on your site….and I use ‘angle’ for lack of a better word.

    I sell English consulting services for company employees. (I’m in Mexico City.) The person who usually makes the buying decision in my market is the HR manager/ or training manager.

    So if I started interviewing, I would be talking with them (likely in Spanish) about things related to being an HR manager/training manager.

    Obviously I’d work hard to create great questions that would be useful for other HR managers – but how would you say that lines up to helping the generation of business?

    Is it just about developing the rapport do you think? Building new contacts from referrals?

    I do hope this makes sense to you….

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  • http://www.green-talk.com/ Anna @GreenTalk

    Sounds like I need to interview you….

  • Umane Paul

    It is a great and an eye opening article, thanks

  • http://www.secretstaff.com/ Ana Daniels

    Great overview of networking within social media. I think joining twitter conversations is the most easiest and effective way of social media marketing. Thanks for the tip!

  • Tangerine5ive

    Great practical tips! Answering questions in Quora is also a powerful way to build thought leadership and relationship with peers and influencers. Love Twitter chat also. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lena Sinclaire

    I never found Twitter useful in creating relationships until now. It always felt like a bunch of self-centered people shouting into a vast void. I think Twitterchat might just do the trick for me!

  • July Chang

    Thank you for your sharing, and this article is absolutely brilliant and professional. Although I have used these tools quite a long time, I didn’t know how to use them effectively.

  • Lisa S

    I think I have done all of these except number 4. Informational interviews are on my to do list. I have found some great volunteers/staff by being intereviewed. It is a great way to get your foot in the door.

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