Social media is your entry point into people’s communities. It’s where you can start building a connection even if you’ve never met. Depending on the person you can try different starting points. For example, start on LinkedIn, then add Twitter and later facebook, if appropriate. Or you can start on facebook if you have connections in common and branch out from there. Figure out his or her preferred avenue of communication. They may post on a variety of social media sites, but find out if they tend to respond or post more frequently on one particular site.
The most important thing to remember when you’re establishing connections with new contacts, is to make sure you add value for them! This is the quickest and easiest way to start building trust and establish a connection with someone. (see our previous post, 10 Simple ways to add value and build a relationship right away for some ideas).
Facebook: How to leverage your connections.
Facebook is a great way to leverage the connections you already have. With over half a billion users, there are networking opportunities for just about anyone, anywhere.
Use your mutual friends to establish common ground and ask for an introduction where you can. Otherwise you can follow them or like their business page and start your interactions with them there, then reach out personally once you’ve made a connection. Make sure you add value in your interactions.
Facebook groups are a great open forum to introduce yourself as a part of the group and start building connections right away. You’re showing you have something in common, they’ll already see you as a part of the group and therefore automatically feel more connected to you. As you add more and more value to the group and they get to know you as someone who contributes and helps, chances are, they’ll be happy to connect with you outside of the group or on other sites like Twitter or LinkedIn
Just remember to always add value!
LinkedIn: Get in the group!
LinkedIn groups are a powerful way to meet people who are influencers in your market. A useful feature is that it will suggest different groups to you based on your experience, which can be a great place to search for new contacts.
Since LinkedIn is catered for professional networking, it gives you access to like-minded professionals and people who are strong market influencers in your industry or niche. When you join a new group, add value when you engage and comment. Ask relevant questions, offer thoughtful valuable feedback and answer others’ questions if you can. Just make sure whatever you say is valuable and worth reading and not just a flag to show you’re there.
Next, once you’ve established a connection with some members in the group, you’ll be familiar to them and they’ll be happy to connect with you because they appreciate your expertise and see you as someone who could bring value to them.
Twitter: Keep the conversation going!
Networking on Twitter is easy to do because it’s so easy to find people and jump straight into a conversation or chat that’s happening. Ask questions or comment on a recent tweet. Simply retweeting someone’s content or just starting a conversation around it can open new doors. And by adding value to the conversation, you to increase the likelihood the person will reply. Don’t comment just to comment.
Finally, as you’re building connections and expanding your network, don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit. You’re more likely to hear back from someone if you reach out to them on multiple social media sites. Remember that everyone is busy so keep it short and to the point and don’t be discouraged if you have to engage a few times before you get a response.