Social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram have revolutionized how we deepen and expand our connections with our peers, clients, and potential professional contacts.
But social media is an extraordinary and productive tool that you can use to build your network.
More people are now networking over the internet rather than in person. In the past few years, social networking has intensified from a niche activity into a phenomenon utilized by millions of people.
So it makes sense to use social media to grow your network as a job seeker.
But it’s also valuable as a hiring manager or business owner. You can connect with thousands of potential customers online, reach new markets, enhance your customer service through the internet, and attract the right talent for your team.
Either way, following these tips will effectively maximize how you network on social media and help you build powerful connections.
Why Use Social Media for Networking?
There is a lot of information on the internet. Social media offers you a chance to focus on your interest and find what is relevant to you, whether that’s looking for a new job, reaching your career goals, or quickly hiring a quality candidate.
One of the main reasons to network on social media is because it makes communication easier and faster. You can get in touch with anyone at any time with just a click of a button.
You may even find you prefer networking on social media over networking in person. It gives you much more flexibility as to when and where you choose to network, as well as more time to think about what you want to say or how you want to respond.
1. Find Leaders and Influencers
You can easily get the latest content, updates, and event details from thought-leaders, influencers, or your favorite industry people on social media.
Social media also makes it easy to learn about current and relevant events happening around you and all over the world, so you can stay up to date and participate in things like online conferences, free training courses, or webinars.
You can grow your network even further by looking at who these leaders follow, and follow them too.
2. Listen and Follow What’s Happening in Your Industry
In the context of social media, listening essentially means monitoring the various channels for mentions of specific company names, products, breaking news, or hashtags.
As a business owner, you can listen for mentions of your business or products from your customers, competitors, and the media. This not only provides valuable insights about your business in real-time, but also gives you a chance to respond to what is being said.
As a job seeker, you can use social media to learn about new opportunities, such as a company’s expansion plans or latest projects, as well as easily keep tabs on any job vacancies they post.
3. Build Awareness and Promote Yourself
While getting to know other people is an important part of networking, the real goal is to get people to know you.
Networking on social media gives you a chance to increase your visibility by honing your expertise. You can grow and become a thought-leader in your space by consistently posting quality content that gets shared for more people to see.
Use your social media platforms to share what you know and what you want to be known for. This will help you to attract potential professional connections.
Posting about your professional achievements, experience, and results can increase your chances of connecting with like-minded people.
Sharing content in your area of expertise will also help you to build credibility.
Furthermore, living out your brand or professional image through your actions will reflect in your online presence.
Nowadays, employers will check candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process, so you want to show them that you have the background, skills, and experience you claim to have. This will build trust, validate your expertise, and enhance your relationships to make them more valuable and authentic.
4. Build Powerful Connections
Social media focuses on connecting people with more people. It gives you a chance to meet new people from all over the world that you can build meaningful social and professional relationships with.
You can grow your professional network out of these relationships by engaging with role models, colleagues, and mentors. Nurturing these relationships gives you a chance to tap into new opportunities or get professional guidance.
In addition to putting your own content online to be shared, social media also gives you a chance to engage with other people or organizations and their content. You can tag businesses or people in your posts, respond to their updates, or share their content.
Engagement is really what social media is about.
Interacting and following people on social media will help you to build relationships and recognition. Your name will be out there for people to turn to and engage with, and they will start to remember you the more you participate in conversations or show up on their timeline or newsfeed.
As a job seeker, employers do notice this sort of thing! Something as simple as following them on Twitter, liking their Facebook page, or subscribing to their email newsletter can help you stand out amongst the other candidates.
5. Utilize Your Connections
Networking on social media makes relationships more personal.
You can utilize these connections to get career advice, find a job you’ll love, and even find new business partners.
As a business owner, social media is a two-way channel where you can build rapport with your clients. It allows you to humanize your brand, enhance interactions and dialogues, and build genuine relationships with the people who buy your products or services.
How to Find and Connect with the Right People
Getting people to notice you on social media will take time and strategic planning. You won’t be successful if you just spam everyone and make it all about you.
Here are a few steps on how to find and connect with the right people.
Establish your Goals
Establishing your goals will help you determine the right people to ask for help and what kind of help you need.
Write down your networking goals and ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time conscious (SMART). This will increase your chances of attaining objectives that matter to you.
Make a List
Writing an extensive list of people that you should or want to reach out can go a long way in helping you connect with them. Having a starting point helps to reduce the pressure and anxiety of reaching out.
Start by writing down the names of everyone you wish to connect with, even those that seem impossible to connect with.
There are many famous celebrities that have responded to fans over social media, so you never know what connections you can make if you don’t try!
Find Your Value to Others
Everyone has a unique value that they can contribute to other people. Knowing your value can help you to connect with others confidently and easily.
You can establish value from simple things like finding what you and the other person have in common or doing them a favor, such as retweeting their post, leaving a comment on their YouTube video, or linking to their website in your own content.
Don’t Focus Too Much on Seniority
When networking, many people focus on connecting with executives and senior managers only.
But you can also concentrate on building relationships with people who are early in their careers or your peers. This will help you to grow in seniority together with them.
You have a better chance of getting a positive response and building a professional relationship with your peers than you are a senior manager. People earlier in their careers have higher message acceptance and reply rates than C-level professionals and VPs, who are less likely to reply to people they don’t know.
Attend Networking Events
A huge percentage of people find jobs through the hidden job market and networking.
A networking event is an ideal place to connect with as many people as possible. These can be held in person or virtually.
During the event, ask the right questions, take notes about who you meet, and get copies of business cards or contact information. Add these contacts to your social media accounts soon after.
Reach Out on Social Media
Once you have connected with someone through social media, reach out to them through the same platform.
Send them a short message and include details on how you know them and why you are reaching out (such as to request a meeting or ask their advice).
How to Use Your Social Media Connections
What do you do once you have made a new connection? How do you nurture and maintain these relationships?
Here are some tips on how to make the most of these connections.
Keep it Short
When you send your first message, keep it brief and straightforward as people do not have the patience to read long messages. Be concise and use no more than one paragraph that is easy to read on a phone screen.
The content of your message matters as much as the length. Convey your message with a personal touch and let your voice come through.
You can also find common ground by referencing a common interest, a mutual friend, or a shared alma mater. This will help to boost the acceptance rate of your messages.
Don’t Be Shy
You can connect with almost anyone when networking on social media. So no matter what stage of your career you are at, get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Your network won’t grow, otherwise.
You can use the connections that you already have on social media to seek advice. When asking for advice, be direct and keep it as simple as possible.
If you are in a transitional period and are changing careers, moving from one company to another, or starting your own business, reach out to your connections and seek their wisdom. Not only will you get valuable advice, but your contacts will feel like you value their insights and opinions.
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to pay it forward. Helping someone and expecting to get nothing in return allows you to feel good and grow your sense of generosity.
When you offer yourself as a resource, you can help give back, especially to those early in their careers.
Don’t Push It
You are not going to hear back from every person you reach out to on social media, even if you have already made some sort of connection with them. Messages get lost or forgotten about, or the person can be too busy to respond to your request.
Follow-up with them once or twice if you don’t hear back from them, then move on.
Keep engaging with them as you previously have done on social media, but don’t send them unsolicited direct messages. You gave it a shot, so now let them reach out to you.
Using Social Media to Find a Job
Networking is a part of job searching and it’s becoming more common to use social media to look for jobs.
Take time to build your social network. Get to know how the various platforms work, and use the search feature to find current job postings and the right people and companies to follow.
Be respectful with how you make these connections and avoid coming off too strong or desperate to strangers. Create a genuine connection using mutual friends or other things you have in common and send out invitations with a personal note.
“In the real world, don’t network for a job, network for a relationship. Whether you’re at conferences, industry events, or heck, meeting the parents of the other kids at your school, you don’t network for a job— you network for relationships. It just so happens that some relationships lead to jobs.” – Ian Siegel, ZipRecruiter CEO
Here are the best practices for making connections and getting companies to notice you when using social media to find a job.
Use Diversified Content
When you share information online and want companies to notice you, don’t make it all about business. You are a real person who has interests, relationships, and thoughts outside of your career.
So use your social media to post business-related topics, as well as any other content that your audience will enjoy watching or reading. This can include heart-warming videos, funny memes, or informative blog posts.
Have Multiple Communication Avenues
To increase your social media presence, it crucial that you have multiple communication avenues. This will also increase your chances of influencers noticing you.
There numerous social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Yelp, and many more. Being on a few different ones will give companies and influencers several ways that they can reach you.
Set High Standards for Your Content
If you are using your social media profiles to look for a job, make sure you are keeping your timeline professional.
Avoid postings updates that are negative – such as complaining, swearing, or arguing.
Your content is the backbone of your social media profiles. Companies and influencers need to see something valuable from the posts you share. If people are interested in the content you share, this improves your chance of getting noticed.
Your content should match the message you want to pass to the influencers and audience in general. So mix it up to boost your depth by sharing content created by others and your own original content, such as photos, updates, and quotes.
It’s okay to show your personality and interests in your updates. In fact, it’s a good idea to show that you are a well-rounded person who knows how to use technology and can communicate online.
There is a lot of competition out there, whether you are trying to find a new job or are looking to hire a strong candidate.
When you network on social media, your personal connections can give you an ‘unfair advantage’ over other professionals, job seekers, and businesses. Take some time to build these relationships and use them to your benefit!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.