Successful Social Media Business Networking

Tips to Building Business Relationships Through Social Media

Smart businessman using digital tablet in city
d3sign / Getty Images

Most business owners see social media as a marketing tool; however, it can also be a fantastic way to build your network.

Why Network

Why is a network important? For one, it can lead to referrals, one of the most effective and affordable ways to build a business. Your network is also a source of feedback and support, so even though you’re working at home by yourself, you’re not actually alone. Finally, networking can lead you to new opportunities.

There are two ways you can do business networking through social media.

  1. Participate in groups and discussions involving others you want to connect with.
  2. Reach out to a specific person you’d like to connect with. Doing the first, will help you identify the second.

Building Your Network Through Social Media

Start by getting involved in groups that include people you’d like to build relationships with. Here are some ways you can not only meet new potential clients and connections, but also, show off your expertise and become known to others:

Participate in Groups 

For professional networking in your industry, one of the best places to participate in groups is on LinkedIn. However, Facebook has many professional groups as well.

Join in Twitter Conversations

Twitter chats are generally at a set time and last for a specific duration (i.e. at 10 am Tuesday for 1 hour). During the chat, you use a hashtag that identifies the chat and participate in the live conversation.

You can find twitter chats through a variety of resources including TweetReports or Twubs. Another option is to host a twitter chat, where you set up the time and hashtag, and invite others to join in. You can register your hashtag at Twubs to get more participants.

As you participate in group and Twitter discussions, you’ll meet people you might like to connect with one-on-one.

When you do, follow or friend them, so you can connect directly. 

Reaching Out to Individuals

Participating in groups and chats lets others get to know you first. Next, you can follow or friend, participating by responding to their posts or sharing their content. Once they know you, then it’s okay to reach out directly for networking purposes. People don’t want to work with others they don’t know, so get to know them and let them know you first.

Sure, sending one generic message to a group is easier, but it also is unprofessional, rude, annoying, and most likely to be ignored. Your goal in networking is to build a relationship. If you don’t take the time to send a message tailored to the person you want to connect with, why should he connect with you? Get to know your potential connection and then send a personalized message that shows you know him by using his name and other information you’ve learned about him by engaging with him online.

Whether you want to invite your potential networking partner to be on your podcast, participate in a joint venture, or offer your services, do it through a private message through the social media platform or email. Posting your request publicly can put your potential partner in an uncomfortable situation, because if he answers you, then a ton of other people might also ask him for help, and if he doesn’t respond, he’ll appear rude.

So keep your ask between the two of you.

Offer Value to Others

Always lead by offering something of value as opposed to asking for something for you. Ask your potential network connection what he needs and then see if you can help either by fulfilling the need yourself or through a referral.

Social media offers fast and affordable ways to build relationships and your network. With that said, you need to be polite and helpful in all your interactions, as opposed to always asking for something for your business. Networking, like social media, is a two-way street, in which you’re expected to give as well as receive.