Think about the last time you went to a networking event. Did it involve a few drinks, anxiously milling around, and most interactions having a hint of awkward to them?
Now you may be one of those social butterflies who actually has no idea what we’re talking about and if you are that person, we applaud you. But for those of us who are anxious about working the room, going to a networking event can take a lot of courage when that latest episode is waiting on Netflix.
What if we told you, you could still be networking whether you’re in your pajamas or halfway around the world running your business from afar? (Our Co-Founder Katie may live in Brussels, but that doesn’t stop her from hustling 24/7). Do we have your attention? Good. Because this Weekly Slice is all about the art of digital networking for both you social butterflies and introverts alike.
The first question to ask yourself before you start joining every single digital group you stumble across is what do you want to accomplish? Be strategic about your networking and honest about your goals. Are you an agency looking for some new clients? A new entrepreneur looking for a mentor? A blog trying to get new readers? Try writing down a list of networking goals to carefully guide your group selection. You’ll be a lot happier with 10 carefully selected groups with good contacts than 50 loosely related ones.
Next, start searching around for the right groups for you! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- LinkedIn: This platform is great for B2B marketing and growing your own professional network. Using the search bar at the top of your homepage, try typing in your field of work or even your alma mater to explore professional groups you can join. Keep in mind that some groups are just for networking (exploring articles, asking opinions, starting a convo topic, making connections, etc.) while others are specifically for jobs.
- Twitter: Are people replying to your tweets at all? Tweet right back at them and start a conversation, maybe even meet for coffee. (We have a client recently that received a relevant in person meeting from a tweet the person replied to!) Whose attention do you want to get? Tweet at them (tag their account and/or their company’s account) and see what happens. Just remember to tweet something they would be interested in (think beyond “check out my page!”) for a higher chance of them casually tweeting you back.
- Facebook: Facebook groups are gold for any type of networking you may want. One of our clients has a blog on chronic health conditions and joined chronic condition support groups to not only grow her network, but get invaluable feedback on her progress. We’re in groups that provide everything from invaluable career advice (looking at you Being Boss) to possible job leads and amazing connections.
- Listservs: Search for possible listservs where you might be able to ask questions or look for gigs. You can start by asking your network which listservs they’re on or simply google some keywords to explore the possibilities. We can’t possibly mention listservs without giving a shoutout to our fav Progressive Communicators of DC listserv where interesting conversations and job leads are sent out almost daily.
- Instagram: Are you really loving someone’s Instagram feed that you’re interested in meeting? Try commenting on their photos or starting a conversation in DM. One of our freelancers recently went from a waitress she had commenting on her photo of food to a happy hour where they both discussed their respective marketing gigs. Networking magic does happen.
So you’ve found your ideal groups but now you’re just staring at that empty text box wondering what to type to make the best possible impression. Keep these digital networking tips in mind to facilitate the best possible connections for you and your business:
- Don’t just be self-promotional. You may be thinking, but isn’t that the point? By all means if you’re replying to a possible gig, self-promote all you want. In other networking groups that are more conversation-based you just have to be careful about crafting the message leading others back to your website. Try adding a tip or asking questions so people start to know your name and business in an organic way.
- Put your best foot forward. Separating personal from self can be tricky when networking on social media. Thankfully Twitter and Instagram allow you to have a business page, but joining groups on Facebook means joining the group as an individual. When you interact in a group people might get curious about who you are and click on your profile. What do they see? Double check your privacy settings to make sure your more personal and fun photos (think you and your friends having some late night drinks) are private and your profile picture makes a good impression. We’re not saying you have to use a professional headshot, but perhaps not that one where you might be a little toooo casual.
- Facebook does not replace face time. When it comes to digital networking, make sure you don’t just stay behind your computer screen no matter how tempting that may be. Did you make a digital connection in a similar area? Get out there and go to coffee together. Our Co-Founder Katie may be in Brussels most of the time but that doesn’t stop her from stacking her calendar when she’s back in DC since most of the digital connections she makes are DC based. (We’re just going to brag for a second. One time she even met a connection in an airport while she was flying in and the connection was flying out. That’s networking dedication.)