At it’s core, networking is simply building relationships and seeking opportunities from those relationships.At it's core, networking is simply building relationships and seeking opportunities from those relationships. Click To Tweet
With that in mind, networking doesn’t have to mean attending events and slinging business cards if that’s not your style… You can totally do it online.
You’re still going to have to reach out and connect with people, you’re still going to have to nurture those relationships and you’re still going to have to be consistent.
You know the saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”?
Since you’re an empire builder, you’re here to create our own luck… and with a rock solid strategy and consistency, you’re going to be as lucky as a happy little leprechaun at the end of a rainbow by following this strategy.
So just to reiterate and be crazy clear, if you decide to focus your networking on social media, you’re still going to have to actually talk to people with intention and consistency.
I know, shocker.
Let’s get started…
Stating The Obvious: Clean Up Your Image
Ok, you’re a young professional so you know this already.
… but do you?
If you’re going to use social media for business, your profile should make you seem like a person who loves their life and what they do for a living.
No, you don’t need to be perfect, but you should be a human with good vibes…
Not a brand that’s force feeding a product.
Be someone who people want to engage with, go back through that profile picture album and delete the old pictures from back in ’08 where you were partying a littleeee too hard and those ’03 MySpace pictures of your mirror selfies.
Make your default picture YOU, not your brand and be sure that if someone scrolls through your feed, they’ll see a real, live person, not a brand force feeding their spammy product.
People like connecting with PEOPLE.
… And don’t forget to update your about section!
Make sure what you do is updated, your bio, relationship status, the whole nine.
By all means, show yourself having fun, just make sure that every part of your image is curated to the message you’re trying to deliver to your audience.
Decide Who To Connect With
Whether you decide to focus on networking using social media or in person, you need to figure out why you’re networking.Whether you decide to focus on networking using social media or in person, you need to figure out why you're networking. Click To Tweet
Without a solid why, you’re going to be bouncing person to person, wondering why opportunities aren’t just falling into your lap.
Here’s a hint: knowing your ask means you are keenly aware of parallel opportunities that might not directly tie in with your goal but will get you a step closer… and that’s what often happens with networking.
What’s Your Goal?
When I go to a networking event, I have a very specific goal in mind…
That’s to have three great conversations where it ends with a follow-up and their full contact information… and if we’re taking that a step further, I go to two events per week which totals six new contacts to my database every week.
One of the laws of networking is to feed your database every day, so this is one of the ways I do that.
Over a span of a year, I’ll add 300 people to my network that I’ve built solid relationships with.
In real estate, for every 6 people who you communicate with in a systematic, consistent way, you should get 1 deal out of it.
So every week, I’m adding a future deal to my pipeline.
You can have a similar goal with social media and focus on turning a specific number of “friends” into actual connections where you take the conversation offline and bring it to real life…. but you have to know why you’re doing it before you can figure out “the who”.
Who Can Help You Get There?
Listen, this question comes with a grain of salt.
Building your network is going to be like a spiderweb… You never know who you’re going to meet.
That’s part of the fun.
Understanding the type of people you want to meet will help you strategically place yourself in the right rooms at the right time to have the right conversations.Understanding the type of people you want to meet will help you strategically place yourself in the right rooms at the right time to have the right conversations. Click To Tweet
For me, my target real estate client AND target member for MEB is a young professional, usually between 27-35, who makes $75k+ per year.
My average sales price for real estate is about $300k, so young professionals who make about $75k will generally be somewhere in that range or higher (if they have a partner they’re buying with) AND they’ll generally have friends and family that are in a similar financial situation.
In addition, that audience is also pretty similar for our MEB members so my focus is ALWAYS on finding and building relationships with my target audience, but that doesn’t mean that I ignore or brush off the other people, I just spend time in the places that I know they hang out.
Your action item here is to figure out WHO you need to meet and then start figuring out how to meet them.
If you’re really serious about staying online, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups are INCREDIBLE for finding your target audience.
Create Your Lists
Facebook has a thing called “lists”, that gives you the ability to group people by however you want to.
It’s SUPER convenient because you never have to go looking for someone to connect with… You can literally log in and go directly to that list and start engaging.
Taking that a step further, social media algorithms only show you the content that they think is relevant to you while lists show you everything in chronological order.
That means without using lists, you’re missing great opportunities to connect with your weak ties that you didn’t even know you were missing.That means without using lists, you're missing great opportunities to connect with your weak ties that you didn’t even know you were missing. Click To Tweet
This might take you an hour or so at first, but once it’s done, you don’t have to worry about doing it again and it’s super easy to keep up with.
Ways To Engage With Them
You know that list that you made above?
Let’s put that to work.
The idea here is to create a conversation, not just get noticed.
Ahem, all of this can actually apply to dating too, just throwing that out there.
Liking every post or picture might boost the ego of the person who’s posts you’re liking but they’re only going to see you as a fan.
If you make a habit of connecting with 3-5 people per day on the social media sites that you consistently use and interact with those people in a way that is genuine and authentic, your own engagement will grow and you’ll start to build your online community.
Comment on 5 posts, like 5 posts and send 5 messages.
It takes about ten minutes to do but over the long term, will really start to build relationships and will get you shown higher in people’s newsfeeds because you’re actually interacting.
You’re not going to actually sell them through social media.
Instead, your goal is to take the conversation OFF of social media and bring the relationship to life on the phone or in person.You're not going to actually sell them through social media. Instead, your goal is to take the conversation OFF of social media and bring the relationship to life on the phone or in person. Click To Tweet
The key here is to make sure that you’re only interacting on posts that you want to be associated with — this is important because your friends can see what you’re liking and commenting on — plus, the more you interact with these people, the more you’re going to see of that type of stuff.
My rule of thumb is I only engage if it’s uplifting, inspiring, educational or funny.
Life Changes + Special Dates
Instead of just replying to someone’s post about their engagement, new baby, birthday or whatever other life event, send them a message.
Yup, it takes two extra seconds but increases your likelihood of getting a response by about a billion percent.
Ok, maybe it’s not THAT much higher but you get the point.
Connect with them or celebrate with them from the most genuine place of your heart and they’ll feel that.
You can do this for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, engagements, new babies, job anniversaries, new jobs and the list goes on forever.
A simple congratulations isn’t going to cut it though — give them a reason to continue the conversation.
Oh, and guess what you’re going to do?
Ask a question!
Instead of just “happy birthday!”, how about, “happy birthday! Hope you have an incredible day. How are you celebrating?”
Friend requests are the single most untapped way of building relationships quickly.Friend requests are the single most untapped way of building relationships quickly. Click To Tweet
After you’ve cleaned up your profile and written your content to cater directly to your target audience, you’ll find that you start getting more and more connections from the right type of people.
When you get those connections, reach out, thank them for the add and ask how you’re connected.
Sometimes they’ll say, “we met at ___” or sometimes they might say something like, “I saw your post/comment/etc. on ___ and I wanted to connect with you because of ____”.
Plus, people who are adding you are like warm leads… They want to know you, so initiate the interaction.
Facebook tells you who’s currently online like back in the AIM days.
Bet you didn’t know that, did ya?
When you go to your friends list under “chat” (or in the messenger app), you’ll see little green dots next to the people who are online.
Green means go, so GO MESSAGE THEM!
Reaching out to people who are currently online means you’re more likely to have quicker response times and engage in more actual conversations instead of having to wait til they’re back online.
Think of the little green light like knocking on their door when you know they’re home vs. when you message people randomly, it’s like leaving a voicemail.
Here’s what it looks like:
A Word of Caution
As you’re reaching out, ESPECIALLY online, keep your questions and engagement friendly without being flirtatious or too deep.As you're reaching out, ESPECIALLY online, keep your questions and engagement friendly without being flirtatious or too deep. Click To Tweet
Your introductions should stay semi-professional until you have some rapport.
I mean, you definitely don’t have to refer to everyone as Mr. or Mrs., but at least call them by name.
I’ve gotten a few messages on LinkedIn like “hey beautiful, how was your weekend?” ON LINKEDIN!
Say whaaaaa?!? Do they even know how LinkedIn is supposed to work or what it’s for?!?!?!
Definitely didn’t respond to that and if you make people feel like you want something or are trying to hit on them, you’re going to turn. them off.
Ending The Conversation
One of the hardest parts of networking for most people is to end the conversation.One of the hardest parts of networking for most people is to end the conversation. Click To Tweet
Sounds so simple, but can be so awkward to actually do.
… and networking online is absolutely no different.
I’ve taken this “ending conversations” concept SUPER seriously because otherwise, you end up with a bunch of open conversations that sort of trail off without any specific action plan.
When you’re finishing up your interaction, it can be as simple as, “I have to run but it was so nice chatting with you”… but it doesn’t end there.
Do not end any conversation without an action item… Regardless of if it’s online or in person.Do not end any conversation without an action item... Regardless of if it's online or in person. Click To Tweet
Being that clear on you intention AND having an action item for every conversation will change your relationships and peace of mind completely.
Your action item could be, reach out to them again in 3 months or it could be, “introduce them to ___”.
If I interact with someone who I think I can help or who I would have synergy with, my goal is to get them off of Facebook and on the phone.
My signature line is “I’d love to hear more about you and your goals and see what I can do to help so let’s hop on a quick call. Just to save all of the back and forth, here’s my calendar: [link to calendar].”
I’ve mentioned before that I use Contactually heavily and I use Calendly for my calendar.
Zapier is like the little messenger between apps to get them to work together, so whenever someone creates an appointment in my calendar, they’re automatically added to Contactually so that I can add them to my follow-up plan.
Because they’re automatically added, you’ll never worry about whether or not you’re following up enough and you’ll stop treating your mind like a memory machine instead of a processing machine so you can free up white space for other stuff that you actually LIKE to do.
In my world, there’s no better, faster or more efficient way to build rapport and learn about their goals quickly…
Lastly, before you put your phone down or let go of that mouse, log that interaction in your CRM (like I said, I use Contactually.
This serves a few purposes…
Firstly, you can easily keep track of when the last time you talked to someone was, you’re keeping record of every interaction and you can set up a task for your next action item or follow-up.
Logging the interaction takes all of 15 seconds, but when you go to reach out to them again, you look like you have the best memory ever because you remembered their kid’s birthday or the big anniversary trip they took.