If you’re a business professional and you’re avoiding social networks, you’re making a big mistake.
Why do I say that?
Because I believe in this simple truth: Success in business depends as much or more on WHO you know than WHAT you know.
Today, online social networks are the most powerful tools we have for finding and connecting with people that can help advance our careers, and bring success to our businesses.
And many business professionals are missing out on these opportunities.
Three strategies for professional social network engagement
In my own career, I’ve found the following three strategies to be very effective for guiding my professional social networking online.
First, I focus on finding people who are knowledgeable about topics I care about. I call these people “influencers” because they have and share relevant knowledge and insights for me and many others. These influencers stand out because they have high online visibility and large audience reach. They are appearing in our social feeds on a regular basis.
Here are a few tips for finding your online influencers:
- Lists of top influencers: I have made a few and there are others here and here.
- The content being shared most widely by others in your industry: Some good tools for that are Nuzzel and BuzzSumo.
- Do your own research: Google knows the answers to every question.
Second, once you’ve found some influencers, invest time in consuming their social feeds. Read what they write and what they share. Add your own comments and insights. Then, share the best of what you consume. I refer to this as curation and it’s one of the BEST ways to be visible in and add value to your business network.
How do you do curate efficiently? Try this:
- Spend 10 minutes each day reviewing your LinkedIn feed: Click ‘like’ if you find an article interesting, add comments here and there.
- Get onto Twitter and review your feed: If drinking from the Twitter firehose is overwhelming, then make a short list of high-priority, high-value accounts and just follow, like and share them.
- Subscribe to some curated email newsletters and curate the curators.
Thirdly, nurture relationships and take them offline. When you find people whose insights you find relevant and helpful, get to know them – in the real world. Hop on a call. Have a coffee. Meet at an event. Social networks are powerful and efficient ways to find and nurture new connections, but it’s in relationships where the real return on investment lies.
10 things every professional should be doing to nurture their business network and reputation online
If the above strategies make sense to you, here are 10 activities you should be building into your day-to-day work life:
- Make sure your social network profiles are complete, up-to-date and professional looking. Focus on LinkedIn and Twitter for business networking.
- Spend time (10-15 minutes a day, consistently) reviewing your social feeds, as well as liking, commenting and sharing the best content you find.
- Build your own personal list of influencers and pay attention to them, invest in them, listen to and share them.
- Connect in social networks with everyone you meet offline or in conference calls and use the network to stay in touch.
- Attend industry events, then report on them in your social networks, for instance, by writing your own top takeaways article.
- Share your opinions on trends, for example, by summarizing key articles or books you’ve read and drawing out some insights for your industry.
- Share some of your company’s information, but don’t be the person that only shares your company’s information because that’s boring and gives the impression you are only self-promoting.
- Give credit to others (individual people, more so than big companies) as much as possible by tagging them in anything you re-share that they wrote or that you originally saw in their feed.
- Adopt a posture of service to your business community online and strive to be generous in sharing your insights and information.
- Avoid arguments online and do not engage trolls and anonymous accounts because there is little to gain and much to lose.
Developing effective social networking habits will help you grow and nurture your business network. This will help you stay current on key developments in your industry, while also increasing your visibility.
Don’t wait to start building your industry community, your knowledge and your personal brand visibility. It will help you succeed in your current role – and the next!