Networking is crucial to being successful. I truly believe no one reaches the top completely on their own. Although networking conferences and events are great, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to meet people in your industry. Connecting with people is easier than ever because of social media. However, it blows my mind how bad (some) people are at trying to network over the Internet. I have too many examples to count of terrible messages I’ve received from people who are looking for career advice, letters of recommendation or just some of my time to chat.
I’ve been able to meet so many amazing individuals through social media, even a couple of my best friends. But none of the connections I’ve made has been because I messaged a stranger “Hey” or “Love your pics!” Read my tips on how to authentically and successfully network over social media.
VOICE YOUR INTENTIONS IN THE BEGINNING
About a year ago this guy messaged me on Facebook and asked me how I was doing. We had been Facebook friends for awhile and had a bunch of mutual friends. The conversation lasted a few days and he was acting flirty. He messaged me saying “Can I ask you a question?” So at this point, I thought he would ask for my number or out on a date. But then he said, “How can I blog for HuffPost?” Sigh. Yes, I did work for HuffPost but I wasn’t involved in the blogger program. I honestly felt a little used. If his intention was to blog for HuffPost, he should’ve said that in the first message he sent me.
I think it’s very important to send clear and upfront messages to people. For example, instead of sending a message to someone that says, “Do you mentor people?” send a message that is more detailed and explains what you are looking for. State who you are if you’re messaging a stranger, what you admire about the person you are trying to connect with and what you are seeking.
GIVE PEOPLE OPTIONS AND DON’T FLAKE
If you want to connect with people in real life, you need to say this and give them a few options. Tell them you want to hop on a phone call and that you are available Tuesday-Thursday. Now some people aren’t comfortable with meeting up in real life or giving their phone number out, but if you communicate better face to face or over the phone, you should try to network beyond a keyboard. If you set a time to meet up or have a phone call, you need to actually show up and be on time.
For example, someone sent me a really sweet message and asked me if I was available to grab coffee that Wednesday. Then when I replied that I was available, they messaged me that they had a trip planned out of town that whole week. This is unprofessional. If you suggest a date and time, make sure you are actually available on that day/time.
DON’T HARASS ANYONE TO SPEAK TO YOU
There is a fine line between being eager to connect with someone and harassing someone. If you send a couple messages to someone and they don’t respond to you, do not go on their four other social networking accounts and send them multiple messages. Honestly, if you really want to connect with someone professionally, email them. People are busy and don’t always have the time to respond back to you quickly. I’m all for sending a follow-up message a few days after you sent the first but you have to be patient. Sending continuous messages to someone is never the way to go. If someone completely ignores you, move on. Remember there is always someone else in your industry/field who would be happy to connect with you.
I hope this blog post helps you and the key takeaway is just to be genuine and real when you try to connect with people online. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for even more content.