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.
According to a Harvard Business Review blog post entitled, “Three New Networks for the Digital Age,” just having an online network isn’t enough.
In this post, I’ll explore steps you can take to turn those online contacts to offline business relationships. I’ll use the thought of heading to a large event or conference as the stake in the ground so you have a “when and where” for connecting with some of your online contacts.
Here are 8 things you can do to turn social media contacts into offline business relationships.
#1: Get Clear on Your Goals
Start out by using a tool like Evernote to capture some of your thoughts.
Capture what you’re currently working on, your current goals, the people you think can help you move your goals forward and what you’re currently looking to learn. (You may or may not actually have a name for your direction, but a title will do—think of creating a networking persona.)
Is it her magical vocals or her higher Klout score?
And if Seth Godin (Klout score: 0) chooses not to interact on Twitter, does that mean he’s less influential than Uncle Pete, whose Klout score is 35?
These are some of the tricky questions that are being asked since the emergence of new systems that attempt to measure people’s online influence through “social scoring.”
But the question is this: How exactly is “influence” measured? And how do those who make such personal yet inflammatory verdicts decide the scores?
You Have Become a Number
When I first heard about Quora, the conversation went a little like this:
Jill: “Have you heard of Quora? It’s a question and answer site.”
Jack: “You mean like Yahoo Answers?”
Jill: “No, it’s full of experts who give you the best answers.”
Jack: “You mean like LinkedIn Answers?”
Jill: “No, the community votes for the best answer and they can hide irrelevant answers.”
If you have profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter, you may already be aware that these two networks are integrating. In fact, LinkedIn has a specific application called Tweets that can help you keep tabs on the Twitter updates from your LinkedIn connections.
As more professional LinkedIn users create Twitter profiles, I believe this application will become more and more powerful for building influence and visibility with your network connections.
The primary benefits of the LinkedIn Tweets application are:
- Follow your LinkedIn connections on Twitter
- Post status updates simultaneously to both Twitter and LinkedIn
- Monitor and interact with your Twitter streams from within LinkedIn
- Create a LinkedIn-specific Twitter list
If you want to build truly influential relationships online, you have to find places where you can consistently add value, spend quality time and have engaging conversations with members of your target demographic.
LinkedIn Groups offers one of the best ways to make the most of your social media engagement time, but you must adopt the right strategy to be successful. This article will show you how.
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, but you can’t possibly be effective and spend enough time to make a difference in 50 groups.
What works best is to focus your time and effort on a deep and narrow approach in order to build influence within LinkedIn Groups, enhance your credibility and generate new connections.
But very few think of leaving a comment on a blog as a strategy to driving awareness—and potentially, down the road, garnering leads.
Wait, how can leaving a comment on a blog drive awareness (or leads) for your brand? You might be surprised at how effective this strategy can be, given the right circumstances. B2B organizations, for example, are often positioned well to capitalize on this approach based on their need to establish themselves as thought leaders on various topics.
Setting aside the budget to go to a conference like BlogWorld and New Media Expo can be a big decision for a solo brand, a small business or a department head. It’s important to get a sense of where your money’s going, and more importantly, where the return on investment is.
Be honest. Do you follow up on every LinkedIn connection request you get? No, probably not. I’ll bet you click “accept” and that’s as far as you go.
When someone requests to connect with you and you simply click “accept” and make no effort to carry on the conversation, you’re both simply saying hello to each other and it stops dead there. The only thing you gain by doing this is a string of connections that don’t have any real value. You become a connection collector.