When you’re new to social media, it’s easy to be intimidated. There are so many platform options and it seems like every time you blink, a new social media site is created. For that reason alone, so many people shy away from forming meaningful connections on these sites because they feel like they can’t keep up.
In addition, it feels like everyone is telling you that you have to connect. You must. Susan in PR tells you to engage with people on Twitter while Stan in accounting thinks Facebook is where it’s at.
On top of that, you might find yourself wondering, “What’s the point? I will probably never meet most of these people in real life, so why should I bother to connect with them on social media – even if I had some idea of how to do that?”
Oh, buddy. You’ve come to the right place. In fact, I’m here now writing this post for you because of connections that I formed online through social media. So no worries – I practice what I preach.
If I’ve inadvertently sent you into the opening stages of a panic attack already, take a few deep breaths and continue on. I’m going to break this down for you in such simple steps that you’ll laugh about the panic you experience.
Oh – and one more thing before we get started: I don’t believe you if you say you have no time for social media as part of your business plan. The irony is that if you don’t make time for social media as a conversion tactic, you’ll have all the time in the world to learn it. Why? Because that’s where your prospects and clients are. If you’re not there . . . someone else is, and that person is waiting to meet the needs of all of your would-be customers.
So I promise that someday soon, I’ll write a post that explains how you can maintain your social media presence in just minutes a day. But for right now, let’s just start at the beginning, shall we?
This week, make it a point to take a look at your social media profiles. If you’re looking really hard and you’re not seeing those profiles because … they don’t exist … then it’s time to step it up!
Specifically, I’m thinking of these four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Before you start really connecting with others, make sure your profiles are totally filled out and up-to-date. This includes a default photo, information about you and your company, and relevant contact info.
Once you’ve got your profiles in order, start mingling and getting a feel for who is out there. Have fun with it! Remember – social media is supposed to be fun. It’s okay to connect with people you know IRL (I hear that’s the hip lingo for “in real life”), but make sure you branch out.
Now that you’ve been scoping out the scene, pick three people with whom you’d genuinely like to further connect. This is exactly like building friendships offline. You get a sense of who people are, and then you build relationships based on common interests and so on.
I find that it’s easiest for me to make initial contact with people on Twitter. You may find, however, that you connect better on Google+ or Facebook. Go with it.
Once you’ve got your three people narrowed down, start interacting with them a bit more frequently. Make some goals for yourself. Maybe you’re going to retweet each of those people twice a day (a technique that has the added bonus of attracting new people to you via content curation). Perhaps you plan to leave them blog comments and start a discussion that way.
What if they don’t respond to me?
Keep trying. Sometimes you just have to break through with people. If you go a week or so and they still show no sign of ever acknowledging your existence, that’s their loss. Give it up and find someone else who strikes your fancy.
This approach may sound a little bit forced, but real life relationships happen like this, too. It’s how you learn about someone.
I can’t, however, stress this part enough: just like in real life, you have to commit to nurturing that relationship. Which is to say, commit to replying to their tweets, leaving comments on Facebook, +1ing their Google+ posts, and leaving thoughtful comments on their blogs. You don’t necessarily have to do all of that, by the way. Pick and choose what works best for you. Just commit to it.
Whatever you decide, set aside two fifteen minute time slots a day that are devoted to maintaining these relationships through social media.
Repeat process and maintain week 2 friendships.
Repeat process and maintain weeks 2 and 3 friendships.
Repeat this process as often as you want. The more you chat with someone across various platforms, the more likely it is that the connection will move beyond the confines of social media.
And like I said earlier – I’m the perfect example of this. In my career as a freelance writer, I’ve been getting a lot of work lately, and every single one of those jobs came from a connection I made and nurtured through social media. As I got to know people, we started talking about life. As life had it, I was looking for work, and my “inner circle” of social media connections was quick to help me out.
If this can work for me as an unemployed individual looking to completely change career paths, I feel completely confident that it can work for you.
What questions do you have about getting started with social media to build connections? How can we help you? Feel free to connect with me (@writingrenee) and/or the Content Equals Money main account (@Content_Money) on Twitter as a starting point. Good luck!