Networking can bring you new business and opportunities.

What is networking?

Networking is the key to growing a business. Effective networking helps you to forge connections with people who are willing to be a part of the community that helps each other to grow. Networking can bring introduce you to new partnerships, opportunities and audience. Traditionally, networking events are physical events, where people have the chance to meet each other and spend time talking in-depth. But, given the pandemic and the future shifts from it, these events are moving online. In today’s world, networking on social media has gained more importance.

So, how do you network on social media? There are two ways to network; one is through building connections and the other is through networking groups. Let’s look at this organic marketing strategy in depth.

Why do you want to network?

As with any marketing strategy, first define the objective of your networking activities on social media. Do you want to grow your network so that you explore new opportunities and partnerships? In this case, connecting with someone is not enough. You need to then engage in a meaningful conversation with that person as well. Or do you want to be a thought leader and want more visibility? If so, your personal profile should be active and worth following. Your connections should derive knowledge from your posts that helps them.

Building your connections

The biggest challenge with networking through social media is to find the right people to network with. However, the structure of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram make this easy for you. Start off by building connections with people with whom you have something in common – a school/college or a workplace. This way, you will have an initial group of connections who are from the same background. If you are connecting with someone whom you don’t know personally, you may even write them a connection note to introduce yourself. This will help them to remember you from the multiple requests that they receive. It also provides an opportunity for you to talk to them further.

As you connect with more people with a common background, you will start finding new people who are within your connection’s circle. Your next level of building your network will come from this circle. You can start to connect with people whom you don’t know, but share a few connections in common.

Starting to network

Most people make the mistake of thinking that networking stops at the adding connections stage. Another set of people think that just because your connection request has been accepted, you can subject the connection to a sales pitch. Both these assumptions are wrong.

Effective networking is always about give and take. Whether you are growing your network for new opportunities or visibility, you have to be willing to help others out. If you are networking for new opportunities, start off by helping your connections to expand their reach. Comment on their posts or like them so the post becomes visible to your connections. This is part of building a meaningful relationship with your connection.

If you are a thought leader, then post consistently about your subject of expertise. Aim to provide knowledge to your connections by discussing current trends or standard practices in your industry. Engage with your connections when they respond to your post. In addition, engage with your connections when they post about areas of your expertise. If you’d like to know how to showcase yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn, then read my blog about it.

Expand your network through social media - thought leadership

Networking through groups

There are many groups online that exist for the purpose of providing a networking opportunity. These groups are a collection of like-minded people, who are willing to help each other out. Look for groups in your domain that you can be a part of. Don’t just select groups that have your peers, also think about groups that have your customers.

The mantra for any networking group is to mostly provide knowledge and support to the other members. Nothing builds your brand more than that. The group will come to recognize your thought leadership over time and feel confident to do business with you. You may also pitch your business when the opportunity calls for it like when someone is looking for a business like yours.

Expand your network through social media - group example

Outcome of networking

Sometimes, you may not be able to determine a way to take your business forward through a person immediately. This is totally fine. At other times, you may have a clear plan of how to take the discussion forward. If that happens, approach the person with an open-ended request. Allow them the opportunity to refuse gracefully. Doing so will give you the chance to approach them again with another offer later in time. If all goes well, you should be able to gain a new connection that helps your business to grow.

Networking helps to build trust about your business and gains you referrals. So, learn the art of networking on social media to reap the benefits.

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