Social Networking 101: Basic Tips For Online and Offline Social Networking
Guess what?Â Social networking online is very similar to social networking offline (in the real world)!Â Big surprise?Â Believe it or not, for some, it really is a surprise. Whether you are looking to grow your network, influence, awareness and reach or advancing your professional and personal goals it’s important to recognize that being successful in social networking online and offline are very similar.Â Most of us know the rules for networking in the real world, but it’s important to remember them for online, particularly if you are making your first moves into online social media and social networking.Â The following are tips to become a decent social networker in either medium. Most tips apply in both scenarios.
Know the organizer: Make it a point either when you arrive at the event or prior to leaving the event to thank the organizer for putting the event together,Â let them know that you wish to attend future events and that you met some great contacts. Knowing the organizer and letting them know you appreciate the hard work needed to put together an event may put you in position to share the highest level of invite status in the future. Find out who runs things and take the mindset that you owe them something.
Offer assistance: If you really like the event/group, offer that you’d like to be a part of helping to organize future events by volunteering time and some of your core capabilities. Help your fellow social networkers by advancing their goals, sharing their goals with others or by introducing them to a new contact in your network. Make a solid public recommendation if you honestly believe in what they have to offer.
Be polite: Enter conversations gently and in a meaningful way with something to add. Don’t interrupt existing conversations in progress, but work you way into conversations. As a conversation hits a lull or comes to a conclusion, start it again, this time with a twist. Avoid cursing. There is no need to curse and swear to make your point. If you’re succinct in your discussion, people will get the point. Use of words like F*&K and SH%T become very unattractive after a while and show a certain lack of professionalism after some time.
Smile: No one likes a all the time.Â Stay away from negativity, and don’t dwell on bad news. Bring uplifting anecdotes and share in the positives.Â Clean yourself up and dress well.Â Represent yourself with a decent looking avatar / profile image. Ask some of your closest friends and contacts what they honestly think about your profile image.
Meet the influencers: Take time to understand who the influencers are in the room, who are long time members and pay deference to their contributions to the organization. Share your experiences with them about the group. Ask questions of the influencers as they know a ton about the group and how to become established within the group. Perhaps you can help an influencer in some other area of life and they can help you within the social network group?
Meet the newcomers: Show a bit of bi-partisanship and don’t put all your focus on the influencers or the organizers all the time. A newcomer could one day become an “influencer”, so you should try to meet some of them. It’s important to show the rest of the group that you are not just looking to network up, but that you care about the development of the entire group.Â After all, Susan Boyle was a newcomer, right?Â Good for those who introduced themselves to her before she went on stage!
Follow up: Follow up with the people you’ve met in the network and at the event. Don’t leave your new contacts hanging. Make sure to follow up with some form of contact (phone call, email, hand written note) recognizing that you’ve met them and showing them you care about their work. Help them in their endeavors and help them reach their goals first, and they will be apt to help you.
Don’t sell and don’t spam: Tread lightly on the commercial approach. Don’t blanket the party with your pitch, your business card or with how great you are. If you try to sell things to your social network and you constantly GLOAT, chances are you will be rejected in some way.Â This reminds me of a social marketing post we made some time ago where we said:
” [social marketing] is about acting like a human and networking in it’s traditional form; being a part of the discourse, part of the conversation, meeting people and not sucking people into an E-commerce funnel.”
Bring a gift: Bring something to share at the event. Bring insights, a new contact or bits of information that others can benefit from. Don’t come empty handed. Bring an actual gift or bring your knowledge of a subject to contribute to the group discussion.
Find new events: Find new events, go to them and cross-connect the contacts you meet at one group with the contacts from another. Turning your friends on to new events helps them understand that you care about their development.
Introduce a new person: Bring a new person to the group who you think will add value for the rest. You’ll be in the good graces of the new attendee and likely the rest of the group for expanding the network in a meaningful way.
Relate: Make sure you remain relatively on-topic in discussions. Speak about the industry and if the conversation veers into the personal or off-topic, at least make sure those you’re speaking withÂ have a remote interest in what you’re discussing.Â If they can’t relate, you’re done