The growth of the social network industry has changed the way users interact online. Users of sites like My Space, You Tube and even Facebook at one time, were very narcissistic with its approach to interaction. Everything was about “me,” “my” and “I.” Over the years there has been a shift and individuals and companies alike are taking advantage of the relationship building aspect of social networking sites.
The term “networking” itself is understood as an opportunity to connect, share information and cultivate productive relationships. This is exactly what is expected of users of social networks. Too much self-promotion on many social networks is frowned upon; however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. For example, if you’re attending a networking event and all you do is talk about yourself to everyone you see, you will find yourself quite alone and likely to not have established a beneficial connection. Same with social networks, be strategic on how and when you self-promote. Use your tagline, bio and about me to brand yourself as the “expert” in your field. Enhance it with a blog that really gives readers a deeper understanding of who you are, your area of expertise, thought cycle and areas of interest. Make the connection on the social networks, direct a tweet or post to the person(s) you’d like to meet, join the conversation in topics of interest or answer a question.
Remember, the key to networking is to connect, share information and cultivate productive relationships. Once you’ve made the connection and made some time investment in cultivating relationships, leverage the relationship in a way that is beneficial to both parties. Below are some tips on how to use a few social networking sites to grow your network:
Join Quora: Quora is a great site that is moderated by a community a users. It is essentially a Q&A site that connects you to a wealth of information.
Participate in Twitter chats: Twitter chats are a great source of information and a wonderful networking opportunity. Twitter chats cover a wide array of topics and it’s a great opportunity to connect, share information and learn something new.
Schedule a Twitter Meet-up: Once you’ve identified a network of people with similar interests, schedule a meet-up. Plan an “offline” meeting to answer questions, share information and tweet about it.
Google + Hangouts: Let’s you “hangout” with friends, colleagues online and group chat. You can create a “hangout” around a specific topic and invite others to join in.
Facebook: The new Facebook timeline for brands is a great opportunity to engage your network. Take advantage of Timeline’s cover area to showcase images of your clients, fans and highlight company products. Imagine creating a contest where the winner would be “featured” on your timeline. Be creative with your new FB Timeline and use it as a networking opportunity.
LinkedIn: Join groups on LinkedIn, post comments and share information pertaining to your area of expertise.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities available to you via social networks. When people appear in your Twitter timeline, say hello, wish them a great day, or offer a word of encouragement or inspiration. It’s all about networking and engagement. If someone shares a personal or professional achievement on his or her Facebook wall, share a comment. “Like” is good, but take an additional minute to share congratulatory words. Don’t overlook the “social” in network. Be social, connect, share information and cultivate relationships.
Happy Social Networking!