I had a conversation with a young entrepreneur who wanted to grow his network. He had started his business and thought having a network would help him grow his business, which I agree. Prior to having this conversation with me, he had only gone for events as his strategy for networking and even with that, he still hadn’t built any network yet.
I asked if he had social media accounts for his business and he confirmed he was present on few social media platforms. I wondered why the young entrepreneur hadn’t used the power of social media as an additional networking strategy.
The world has become a global village and you might not meet all the relevant people at events. Social media is your biggest networking resource. He then asked me how he could network effectively and also use social media to his advantage in building relevant networks. These were what I shared with him and if you want to build good relationships for your business with social media, I believe you would find these insights useful.
1. Be Clear on What you are Offering.
Networking is about giving. You can only attract people to what you are sharing or giving. It could be a service you provide, an expertise you share, a product you showcase, a skill and knowledge you uniquely possess. What are you sharing on social media and how relevant is it to your audience? What you are offering will attract the people you need into your circle and possibly build relationships. They may be customers, competitors, investors etc.
2. Intentionally Engage.
There are conversations, knowledge sharing, inquiries, and online seminars happening on social media daily. Find those that may interest you and are relevant to your business or any agenda you have and drop a useful comment, offer a contribution, send a message, ask good questions, proffer a solution, like, and share posts. The algorithm of most social media platforms is such that an interaction on a post is seen by a lot of people even outside your social media contacts. It helps attract relevant people to you and a conversation can be initiated. Who is connecting with you on social media?
3. Deliver Relevant Content.
Develop and share content that the network you want to build will need and can potentially attract them. Have a solution to a problem that will attract your target audience and deliver value. Remember that what you offer or share attracts people to you but the quality of your content and its relevance keeps them and initiates important conversations. See your contents as investments and make sure you get returns on your investment – make them consistently relevant.
4. Share Content in Different Forms.
Present your content in different ways that will attract the different people in your audience and targeted network. Some might love pictures, others prefer videos, a section might need live feed, a couple might love animated videos, some will love to listen to audios on the go, and others will only need an infographic content. Add effects to your content to make it fun, simple, and more interactive. Add variety and it will attract the audience or network that needs it.
5. Have a Well-Developed Profile.
Your profile is your online business/call card. It is the part that informs your audience and potential networks who you are and your expertise. Take your time and develop a good online profile- add your specialties and skills, expertise, work experiences, achievements, and what you are offering. Include keywords that will enable your name pop up in search engines. Don’t let people wonder who you are, build a profile that will attract your network.
6. Define your Audience.
If you are going to use social media to build a network, then, know the people you want to attract or be in your network. Define your audience and create content that will interest them and meet a need. Though there’s a craze for more followers or connections on social media especially on Instagram, you don’t need everyone to be part of your social media audience.
7. Offer Help.
If you are looking at building a network of relevant people, then, be the first to offer help and show concern. When you voluntarily offer your expertise where needed, you make room for relevant conversations. Networking is not just about what you gain from people, the ultimate aim is the value you get from each other and building relationships. When you have the opportunity, be the first to offer help.
8. Use Hashtags
Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram allow people to follow hashtags. Hashtags can be keywords that summarize people’s interest, industry, job roles, niche etc. like #entrepreneur, #toastmasters #womeninbusiness, #writer etc. which are added to content they share on social media. A relevant content with the right hashtags can be exposed to your targeted network which can initiate important conversations.
9. Use Social Media Tools.
There are tools that make it easier to find people in the network you want. Twitter Advanced Search helps you find keywords used by people you want to connect with. Facebook Audience Insights is a powerful tool that can help you find your potential customers. BuzzSumo is another free tool to find people to connect with. You use the “Influencers” tab to search by keyword, topic, or username and you will have a list of pages and more. There are a number of tools, mostly free, that can help you find and connect with your desired audience.
10. Speak to an Expert.
There are people who specialize in helping others build social media presence and brands. They work with your specifications to create a brand that will attract your desired network. Where you have difficulty and can’t or seem not to find your way around social media, employ the services of an expert.
Building a network on social media is basically generating relevant content, exposing it to the right people, and engaging them. Social media has brought the world together on one stage and you need to be skillful in building a good network with it. There’s more to social media and its power can be harnessed to our advantage especially in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.