Here’s How to Use Social Media To Build Powerful Networks
If you’re thinking about growing or engaging your network online, I find a lot of people somehow manage to skip two fundamental steps.
1. Include people you already know
2. Actively connect to people
It seems when we’re focused on community building on the web we feel the need to reinvent the wheel! For instance, we start networking with people we run across online and we forget about who we know offline. And, we stop short of connecting to people in ways that will invite engagement. That’s leaving a lot of value on the table.
Here’s an idea that will get you moving forward and improving on both those counts:
Consider using social platforms like a web-wide contact book.
Let’s back up for a minute.
You’ve probably retired your Rolodex, if you ever had a desktop business card file. So, what are you using instead as your personal and professional address book in 2014?
Maybe in the past decade you’ve relied on a digital address book like Plaxo to sync your contacts from multiple devices, automatically register any changes in the source info, and back it all up. More recently, perhaps your list of contacts at LinkedIn started to look and feel like a dynamic version of a digital business card file. Sure, since not only can you sync your contacts at LinkedIn, now you can see deeper information about each person, who they know, which groups and associations they’re active in, their work portfolios. You can see what influencers they subscribe to in Pulse, and you can catch their status updates in your timeline.
A next step is emerging.
Consider ALL your online social networks as automatically updating sources of information about your personal and business contacts.
Yes. Now that we’re connecting to people on multiple social media services — not just business associates at LinkedIn, not just family and friends at Facebook, not just fellow hobbyists at YouTube or Pinterest — our entire, multi-branched social network online can perform as a dynamic, 360 degree contact book.
Take that inert stack of biz cards on your desk. You’re probably hoarding them to contact those folks when the need arises, or when all your ducks are in a row, or something. You’re waiting for the day the cards will work — but don’t wait. A warm network is a network that’s going to be happy to hear from you and ready to say why, yes, I would.
Find and connect on (multiple) social sites with each of them. Toss the cards.
Believe that you will be able to find these people without the physical card. Believe that you don’t actually need their phone number or fax or street address — it’s all findable!
The flipside: make your own contact details findable by the people you want to be found by. That’s a settings issue at your profiles.
Now do the same thing with every physical (and digital!) list of names you have that relate to some area of your life. Could be a neighborhood association, an alumnae group, anything, as long as they are people you want to be connected to.
By connecting with acquaintances ambiently via online networks, you’re taking a small action that will help bring them closer for mutual benefit now, and in the future.
TIP: Try cutting down your business card collection by using lead-management and conference social apps like Bizzabo and Bloodhound when you go to an organized event.
What will happen in your online community in 2014 if you start using social platforms like a web-wide contact book? I’ll be talking more about organically growing your network online, and my own journey with global community building as a solopreneur, in this weekly series for Curatti.
photo by Anastasia Ashman (my collection after a few conferences)
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