Should I Use Social Media to Expand My Network?

Yes, you should absolutely use social media to expand your network. I’m a big advocate for face-to-face networking because honestly, I think it gets overlooked with all the social avenues out there. In my opinion meeting someone in person is the best way to learn about them and develop a true connection. These free tools are an incredible way to meet new people and open up avenues to anything you can imagine!

Social media was initially created to help people stay connected with friends and family. It quickly morphed into social networks that assisted in meeting new people. They have transformed the way we connect with friends, acquaintances, and people interested in similar things. It’s become an incredible way to expand your professional network. Gone are the days when taking several hours to attend a networking event is the only way to meet new people. Now, all it takes is a connection request to someone in a LinkedIn group or a message on Facebook Messenger to someone who comments on one of your updates. In the social age, this is social networking at its core.

Facebook

Ask anyone what the first social network created was and they will probably say Facebook. There is some argument to this, but Facebook was definitely the first social network that made it mainstream. It is now the largest social network with over two billion active monthly users and it is hard to ignore those numbers. Below are a few unique ways to expand your network on Facebook.

Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm allows you to see the posts that your “friends” comment on. This means you can connect with this person in a couple different ways. First, you can send them a friend request. This might be a little too forward to some, so the other way to connect with that person is commenting on their post. This has the potential to open up a conversation and it will progress from there.

You may also search for groups that are relevant to your passions or the industry in which you work. After joining these groups, make sure you visit and contribute to them on a regular basis. This will do a couple things. One, it will put your name and profile in front of people you have never met. Secondly, it will open up conversations with these people and allow you to have a chance to continue other conversations about new topics as well.

Twitter

Twitter has received some bad publicity lately for multiple reasons. The size of their user base hasn’t changed much while a lot of the other social networks keep increasing. For some, Twitter is also hard to understand. Or my personal favorite, which is now a bit outdated, “I don’t want to be limited to 140 characters.” (In November 2017, Twitter officially changed the character count to 280). With all of these negatives flying around, Twitter is still a great networking tool.

Twitter chats are a great way to meet like-minded people and talk about different topics on a weekly or monthly basis. Twitter chats have a specific hashtag that is used and they start and end at the same time every week/month. The typical format is question and answer. A moderator asks a question and the participants (anyone who searches the hashtag to see the question) can answer for everyone to see. I’d be happy to suggest any that I know of if you reach out to me at @adamvietdsm.

In my opinion, Twitter Lists might be the most under-utilized feature of Twitter. You can search for a phrase, a word or a hashtag and find people that are talking about it. Then you can add those people to what they call a “list.” After expanding the list, you can go there and only see the tweets from those people. You can always be in the know about what they are talking about or interested in.

LinkedIn

Ah, the networkers social network! On LinkedIn’s “About Us” page it states, “Connect talent to opportunity at massive scale.” This should tell you all you need to know about what LinkedIn is all about. It’s a dream network for someone looking to make connections with individuals in their industry, someone who can help them find a new job, or someone they want to meet for a coffee. Below are a couple tips on how to utilize this social network more efficiently.

Don’t just send a connection request and hope for that person to accept it. LinkedIn recently started to give you the option to add a greeting message to any connection request. This is an amazing way to “break the ice” and start a conversation. In fact, the more and more people I talk to about LinkedIn, most people say they don’t even accept a connection request from someone without a personalized greeting message. You can ask about their current job, if they have time to get a coffee, or talk about the college they attended. Please, utilize this feature!

Another great way to start a dialogue with connections you already currently have is to scroll through your news feed and comment on a post that interests you. While he mentions something similar to this about Instagram, Gary Vaynerchuk calls this a $1.80 strategy.

He suggests finding 10 updates or posts that you can give your thoughts on per day. There will no doubt be people that ignore those comments, but there will also be some that will comment back. This is how your network grows and a dialogue is started!

There are plenty of ways to connect with other people on social networks. This should give you a good start if you are looking for new ways to do that with social media. Be creative and come up with some that work for you and your market. Asking for ideas from your current network is a great way to find new ideas as well. Good luck and happy networking!

Adam lives in Grimes, IA with his wife Sara, son Asher and daughter Avery. Adam is also a Technical Recruiter for Beacon Hill Staffing and co-founder of Sprout Media. He enjoys networking, connecting like minded individuals, and the Northern Iowa Panthers.

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