Social Networking for Business: How to Leverage Social Media for Growth
Social media isn’t all cats, memes, cat memes and millennials. It’s also a massive digital community where all of your potential leads, advisors, investors and collaborators may be just a message away.
When you prioritize social networking for business, in addition to building relationships at your local coworking space, you create more connections that guarantee your long-term growth.
This article will give you clear guidance on why social networking matters and how you can use it to gain the competitive advantage.
Why social networking matters
As social media increasingly becomes a digital third place, its power has become impossible to ignore. Online interactions are no longer a separate world — they’re directly influencing real-life connections, both personal and professional.
At the same time, less than a quarter of professionals are creating or strengthening business relationships through social media. This huge gap represents your opportunity to take the lead.
With over 70% of all U.S. adults maintaining at least one social media profile — and the number only rising as younger generations enter adulthood and the workforce — the time is now to use this digital space for professional networking.
5 social networking tips for business leaders
As is the case when you do anything in business, you don’t want to leave strategy behind when you start leveraging social media for your career growth. Use these five tips when social networking for business to maximize your time and ensure your efforts don’t go to waste:
1. Build your brand first
When you’re reaching out to and engaging with other users and businesses on social media, they should get a clear picture of who you are upon visiting your page. Make sure everything from your bio to your content matches who you want to be perceived as professionally.
The more consistent you are across all platforms — this may include using the same handle, using matching profile pictures and posting with the same frequency — the stronger your brand will be.
Online attention spans are extremely short, so it’s important that visitors can recognize what you do and remember who you are after a quick skim of your profile.
If you’re an established entrepreneur and want to further enhance your brand on social media, you may consider developing a brand strategy for yourself. This will help you define who you are, communicate your message clearly and speak to the right audience. Your strategy will also help you create guidelines for your voice and visuals.
2. Prioritize the right channels
Not every channel is equally suited for professional networking in your specific industry. Just because LinkedIn is designed to help anyone network doesn’t mean your specific audience is there.
Have a game plan for what types of professionals you want to reach out to — list out specific people if you have anyone in mind — and figure out what platforms they’re using. Use advanced search tools on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to narrow down your searches faster.
At the same time, keep in mind that just because someone’s on a channel doesn’t mean it’s the right place to network with them. If someone is clearly using their Instagram page just to post dog and baby pictures, they’re probably not looking for professional connections on the app.
3. Join professional groups
Facebook Groups can be your go-to resource when you want to make new virtual connections, need support or give back to your peers. These virtual groups are mini communities of their own that instantly give you something in common with other members.
To find some local business groups or worldwide industry-based groups, search by keywords like “Arizona business” or “marketing” and join (or request to join) groups that sound interesting and helpful. You can always leave if they turn out to be poorly moderated, with too much spam or too many distractions.
Though not as plentiful, you can also search for groups on LinkedIn for more formal networking.
4. Personalize your pitch
On social media, where authenticity rules, others can see right through you if you’re not genuine.
A first rule of thumb is to never directly copy, paste and send your messages to every single person you reach out to. Whether you’re reaching out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or somewhere else, your recipient is unlikely to respond if you don’t show why you’re reaching out to them specifically.
Your pitch should also be unique from any email-based pitches you send out. Even when you’re social networking for business, social media tends to be a more personable platform where your “best regards” probably aren’t the best way to close out a message.
5. Offer value first
People don’t buy products and services. They buy the value the products and services provide.
Similarly, your pitch will be most effective if you create value before you try to sell. While salesy messages can easily be ignored, messages that offer a helpful resource, a free trial or even a call to simply connect will usually get you at least one response.
Lasting professional relationships — which are more valuable than one-time sales — can only begin if there’s mutual benefit and a human connection.
Master virtual networking
Social media makes it possible for professionals to connect anytime, from just about anywhere. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere or there are no networking events in your area, there’s no excuse not to start social networking for business — as long as you have WiFi, that is.
Once you’ve built up your virtual network, you may start planning some in-person collaborations soon. When you’re ready to take your professional relationships offline, grab a meeting room in a creative space to inspire your strongest ideas.