What I am about to say may shock you - probably depending on what generation you were born in - but trust me, it's all true. You might want to brace yourself.
There was a point in time, surprisingly not that long ago, that people memorized each other's numbers, because cell phones did not exist (I know, the horror). In order to network with someone, often times a degree of proximity was necessary. Before social media existed it required a great deal of work to connect with the people that you needed to connect with.
Thankfully, we do not have to live in a less-connected world anymore due to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even picture-based sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Connecting and networking are easier than ever before. I'll go over a few of my favorites and how they can help you to expand your network and connect with new people.
Let's start with Twitter.
In 2012, Twitter was the most popular social network among Fortune 500 companies, beating out both Facebook and Pinterest. Now, all the Top 10 companies have corporate Twitter accounts.[i]
Not only is Twitter my favorite social media platform, it is also a fantastic place to network! I can say with certainty that Twitter is the number one tool I have used to grow my business. It is amazing how much relationship building you can do in just 140 characters! Twitter is incredibly dynamic, allowing you to customize your experience to meet your networking goals.
However, Twitter in and of itself can be overwhelming. You have to have a plan and use it strategically to accomplish your plan. Importantly, Twitter allows you to filter your stream by building lists so that you can closely follow the conversations of a small group of influencers. This allows you to interact easily and build closer relationships. You can also use Twitter as a search engine. Using Twitter's search feature allows you to zone in on the information, people and conversations that are relevant to you.
A few very basic tips for using Twitter:
Facebook currently holds the crown as the King of Social Media. As of late 2012, it had over one billion active users and it continues to grow daily. It started out as a site for college students, specifically, Harvard students, but has grown immensely since then and can now be used as a channel for business networking. 66% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Facebook,[ii] along with 61% of all American companies.[iii]
Businesses are using Facebook as a way to network with their community, customers, charities, business partners, and important business contacts. This social media site allows you to search for professional contacts, colleagues, and important businesses in your area - again, an easy way to connect and network!
Quick tips for interacting on Facebook:
Last, but not least, one of the newest social media platforms, Instagram.
Yes, you can expand your network through this picture-based social platform. With 100 million[iv] monthly active users, 40 million photos per day, and 8,500 likes per second, Instagram has now managed to attract 59% of the world's top brands.[v]
Instagram connects people through photos. It is a fast and fun way to share photos and to connect with others. It can help you to build a community. Instagram is not just about the photos, it is a social network. Taking the time to search for words related to your business can connect you with others in your niche, as well as others who might be interested in the products or services you offer. Try posting content that is in the spirit on the community, rather than for personal gain.
To create a network on Instagram:
The Key to Success on Any Social Media Platform
The rules for networking on social media, no matter which platforms you choose to use, are simple. Listen more than you talk, help others solve their problems, and don't be a megaphone promoting your own products. In other words, engage in discussions beyond promoting your own agenda.
I have found that the networking I have done through social media has not only changed my life from a business perspective, but personally as well.