Have you ever come across that person that just seems to “know everyone”? I’d bet dollars to dimes that they have mastery with the art of networking.
Like communications and public relations, I also believe that there is more art than science, when it comes to networking. There are those who are introverts and those that are extroverts. Those who feel at ease with striking up a conversation with just about anyone are most likely to be a natural networker. There are those that find that small talk flows easily for them. Any topic can spark a conversation. Those are the natural artists of social networking.
There are several basic steps to getting grounded in networking. Whether you are a natural conversationalist or not, this fundamental framework will undoubtedly serve you well in establishing a network for success:
Pick Your Channels – Start Somewhere
Oh my goodness; where does one begin to turn on channels for communication. I actually use a platform called EClincher to help me manage across my various networks. I also have maintained a Buffer account for similar reasons. Within those platforms, I network through Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram, Facebook and Google+. I also maintain home base with my web/blog at www.thedevinsntwork.ca. I also maintain my “contacts” within my Google accounts. If you are just starting out in establishing your network, start with one or two and build strength during those early stages for you.
Communicate through Dialogue
If you are one who researches blogs, articles and posts; I would hope that you are turning that into a two-way opportunity for communication. By adding your voice to social networks, you will gain notice and awareness for you and your brand. If you are merely lurking and observing on the sidelines, your time on research may be well spent, but you will not be building a network through conversation. Step into a conversation with authority and opinion. You need not be controversial to strike up a conversation and be recognized through dialogue. Offering supportive comment and building on posts by others is a good place to start.
Build Your Lists
Start to develop an update contact list. Whether this is on your own mobile or desk top system, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Instagram community, Pinterest likes, LinkeIN connections or Google+ interests – you have a natural community with whom you connect. They are fundamentally your initial “list” of contacts and the base of your network. Once you’ve got your lists built you can determine how you might initially connect with these contacts. You can do this via email, through your LinkedIN connections or choose an email relationship management tool like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.
As mentioned earlier, lurking and observing can be quite informative. Actively engaging in social networking can will be more impactful. Take the time to plan, schedule and generate posts that demonstrate to your followers and the world through social media just who you are and what you stand for. Over time your posts will generate a followership. You will see that people will agree and re-post. Or, perhaps people will have a different opinion to share in contrast to your post. All of this will bring attention to you and your business or interest. Get active and learn through your posts. You will also learn through posts that images and video will generate more interest and engagement. Take the time to consider what image to associate with your post. There are lots of platforms to share your ideas.
Keep your contact and network “hot”. By “hot” I mean keep them engaged. Ensure that you are in touch and engaged with your contacts by keeping in touch, liking their posts, and retweeting their tweets. You can also build up your social network assets by joining various interest groups on Facebook and LinkedIN. You will then be in groups with like minded people, sharing insights and ideas on topics important and of interest to you. By keeping in touch you will be top of mind and valued within their network – which will bring value to your network.
The “art” is that all of this is done from the heart of a genuine authentic “you”. There will be obvious tricks on timing, when to post/not to post, length of post etc. However, the strength of your art of networking will be solidly found in the authenticity of your communication. When people understand what you stand for – they will follow and support you in your endeavours. Create your own posts, tell your own story, post your photos, link to things of interest to you. One caution is not to just become a stream of “re tweets or re-posts”. Create your own voice for content in your channels.
Wishing all you network artists much success out there. Cheers ! @FergDevins