When meeting someone online for the first time do you want to be recognized and remembered as a pro to know, or are you content with just making the acquaintance even if it means being lost in the shuffle and becoming just another meaningless network connection that will be scrolled over time after time?

The digital world has played a major role in society for years and because you’re here right now, I can safely assume that you’re using social media for business. But, like anything else in life, if you want to be successful with your social media activity then it’s going to take a good bit of knowledge and finesse. It’s not enough to just be connected.

Try this: go onto your preferred social network and scroll through your connections. Can you give an important detail about all of those people? Can you remember how you connected with half of them – or why you even connected in the first place? If you’re like most people, then it’s doubtful.

When it comes to connecting on social media, we can all do better. We should do better. If we want to be successful, then we need to improve the way we’re currently doing things.

Today I’m going to give you three tips to level up your connection game.

TIP #1: Do your research
When it comes to connecting with people on social media, do your research on the individual before sending out that invite. This is specific to LinkedIn and Facebook more so than the others because these two platforms in particular require a mutual connection agreement. On Twitter and Instagram you can follow accounts without necessarily receiving the follow back. However, when you invite someone to connect directly on LinkedIn and Facebook, the other party must accept the request. That being said, rather than blindly sending out random requests on these two platforms, do your research on the individual.

Go to the person’s profile and take a look around. Could this person add value to your network and social experience? Can you add value to this person’s network and social experience? If so, then how? Make sure you’re creating an enriching digital environment. Don’t be one of those people who send out a hundred requests a day and then never engages. Sure, it will take a little extra time and effort on your part, but this is how to build a solid network. Focus on quality over quantity.

TIP #2: Personalize the invite
Sending a personalized invitation is the real-life equivalent of walking up to someone at a networking event, extending your hand, and confidently saying, “hello, my name is Rich and it’s a pleasure to meet you.” This is easier to accomplish on LinkedIn because, on LinkedIn, you’re able to send a personalized invitation to connect, whereas on Facebook if you send a direct message prior to connecting it may go directly to the “message requests” folder rather than the general inbox and the individual could miss the notification. That aside, sending a personalized invitation is still a better approach to connecting. It may require you to get innovative but that could also lead to better chances of being remembered.

TIP #2.5: Remember to say thank you
Don’t leave the person hanging after they accept your request to connect. Send a quick note expressing gratitude for having your request accepted. This alone will separate the professionals from the amateurs because few actually do this – and even fewer do it well. I can’t tell you how many times a person has responded with complete surprise having received this genuine message of appreciation. I’m proud to say that I do this with every new person that I connect with, and if you do it too then you’ll join a very exclusive club of individuals who make personalized communication a top priority.

TIP #3: Develop a meaningful relationship
The ability to cultivate a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship is as important in business as those we seek to create in our personal and more intimate lives. Imagine for a moment, that you’re out with friends at a social event. You’re having a good time, minding your own business, and the group is approached by an attractive single. The group is greeted appropriately, and pleasantries are exchanged but within a few short minutes this unknown person is immediately propositioning you for sex. Most of us would be taken aback and many would probably express a few choice words to that individual.

Mentally and emotionally healthy people typically have a particular set of criteria that must be met before choosing to become intimate with another. The same can be said in relation to those with whom we choose to do business. Though the details differ, the reasoning remains the same. We want to feel safe and secure in our decision. We also want to have a certain level of trust, in knowing that the person has our best interests in mind. These take time to develop and shouldn’t be rushed. If you’re playing the numbers game, then you’re bound to get lucky from time to time but this isn’t a good long-term strategy. There’s a much better way to connect and do business. Stop trying to sell your products and services upon initial interaction as this can be off-putting. Instead, focus on creating a meaningful and value-based relationship with your audience.

Great structures require firm foundations. Likewise, if you want to create a long-lasting and profitable business then you’ll need to develop strong relationships. Allow these basic building blocks to serve as the foundation upon which you strengthen your online network and grow your business.

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This article originally published on my blog

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