Grow Your Professional Network on Social Media

Employee advocacy programs present great opportunities for employees. They can help employees build their personal brands, establish themselves as thought leaders, and expand their professional networks.

For companies, having employees with ever-expanding networks is invaluable. As employees’ networks expand and as their relationships build, companies can generate more brand awareness and sales opportunities through their employees. So, in the words of social selling expert Jill Rowley, “Always Be Connecting.”

Below, you’ll find a few quick tips and tricks about growing your social network.

1. Be consistent.

Consistency is the cornerstone of professional networking. To build your professional network and grow your relationships, you need to consistently deliver valuable information and present a coherent professional image.

Being consistent is much easier if you create a strategy and calendar for your social media networks.

2. Lead with content – not your product.

On social media, sales pitches are a huge turnoff. They’re akin to going on a date with a guy who has bad breath and pungent body odor. You might tolerate it for a bit, but over time, it overwhelms you.

The remedy to your pitching problem is to lead with educational and entertaining content. A good rule of thumb is the 4-1-1 rule.

3. Use industry hashtags on Twitter.

On Twitter, hashtags help people organize their tweets into topical conversations. Twitter users regularly search for discussions based on hashtags. For instance, if you’re interested in social media, you might do a search for #socialmedia to see what people are saying about the topic.

When you tweet about something related to your industry, try to work 1 or 2 hastags into your 140-character update. That way, you join an ongoing conversation around those hashtags, and you make your tweets more findable. If people like your tweet on the subject of #socialmedia, they will retweet you or follow you.

Here are a few lists of popular hashtags for…

4. Participate in Twitter chats.

Listening is vital on social media. Before jumping into a conversation, you want to understand to whom you’re speaking and how they communicate.

That said, you won’t build your network by being a passive wallflower. You have to hop into conversations. On Twitter, there are multiple opportunities every day. Twitter chats are live events, where people use a hashtag to discuss a specific topic. It’s great if you have a passion for, say, blogging, and you want to find people who share that passion.

There are several lists of Twitter chats on the web, but here’s one of the go-to resources for finding chat topics and schedules.

5. Follow other people’s followers.

When you follow people on Twitter, you pique their interest. They see your name. They do some research on you. And if they find you intriguing, they follow you back.

To find followers, you can always search for specific names using Twitter’s built-in search tools.

But another way to find people to follow is by looking at other people’s followers and then strategically following their followers.

Here’s a step-by-step playbook:

  1. Identify a few influencers in your space.
  2. Look at their list of followers.
  3. Research their followers.
  4. Then, follow the ones who interest you.
  5. Listen and observe how these people interact with their fellow Twitter users.
  6. Jump into a conversation with the newly followed tweeters when you have the chance.

6. Follow up with presenters on webinars.

Webinar presenters often say, “Feel free to reach out with more questions after the webinar.” That’s an open invitation for you to quench your intellectual thirst and to network with the presenters.

Many webinar presenters often give you their Twitter handles and e-mail addresses, making it easy for you to connect with them after the webinar. But, even if they don’t provide you with direct contact information, you know their first name, last name, and company name, which means that you can find them on LinkedIn.

Here’s the thing with this networking tactic: You need to have questions prepared for the presenters. The presenters gave the webinar because they like to teach. So, allow them teach you something. Lead with questions related to the webinar subject matter.

7. Make yourself visible when you browse LinkedIn profiles.

On LinkedIn, you can browse profiles both invisibly and visibly. When you browse profiles visibly, you subtly hint to LinkedIn users that you are interested in them. Active LinkedIn users will check to see who has viewed their profile and may connect with their profile visitors.

LinkedIn makes it easy to see who is perusing your profile. Check your LinkedIn profile views on a weekly basis, and send a connection request to those people who pique your interest.

To check to see who has viewed your profile, click “Profile” in the top navigation bar and pull down to “Who’s Viewed Your Profile.”

Maybe you just graduated from college, or maybe you graduated 20 years ago. LinkedIn can help you find your old classmates. Using the network’s advanced search tools, you can find people who attended a specific school.

84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral (Edelman Trust Barometer). LinkedIn makes referrals simple for you. First, you choose a prospect. Next, you see how you are connected to that person. Finally, you ask a mutual connection for a referral.

It’s tempting to keep our online and offline worlds separate. But remember that your offline network is full of potential opportunities to grow your online network.

For example, if you meet someone at a conference and have a good discussion, why not add the person on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter?

Growing your professional network on social media takes time, but it is an important task for any social seller or employee advocate. These 11 tips and tricks only scratch the surface. What are some of your best tips and tricks for forming new connections online?

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