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7 Ways Social Media Helps With Business Networking

I’m a firm believer in networking. In fact I credit my network with a great part of why I have achieved my goals in the last five years. My journey from intention through to completion just would not have been possible without my friends, mentors and contacts. Many of the people responsible for where I am I met through this site.

You and I both have unlimited access to humanities greatest networking tool. All you need to do is tap into it.

Of course I am talking about Social Media …

As I embark on the next phase of my journey, our long-planned and wished for move to Canada, I have been reflecting on what I need to establish a new geographically based network. The idea is both daunting and exciting, but I realized there are seven ways that social media is going to help me in my project.

I would be interested if you would agree or if you can add to this list …

How Social Media Helps Your Professional Networking

1#: Visibility

The most immediate piece that struck me when laying out my networking plans was that I can mingle with the Calgary folks from my current base here in the UK. This is super powerful when you think about it. I could have in fact have chosen where to move based on how receptive the locals were to me if I needed to!

As it turned out, Calgarians are lovely welcoming people, as most Canadians are, so a ton of people have been very kind when I have reached out already. Flip this around and you will see how visible the people you want to discover and meet become when they engage in social media.

How might I find a Realtor in a foreign city before the internet? I would have to go there and pick up a local newspaper I guess. Now I can just search blogs, Twitter and Facebook. In fact, that is exactly how I found my Calgary Realtor in around 10 minutes!

What this means to you is if you want to increase your visibility in a certain group, niche or tribe, start discovering them and introduce yourself before you make any physical moves!

#2: Pace

Real world networking is great for deepening relationships and forming close bonds. This is why I travel over 100,000 miles in flying metal boxes each year. Online networking is just faster and more efficient for making initial contact and increasing your reach.

The lesson here is to let the internet do the heavy lifting, then after making contact grow relationships in person where possible.

#3: Common Interests

Conversations start around common interests. People in social media congregate around common interests. We can find people in Twitter lists and Twitter chats, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, blogs and so on. Where there is an interest there is a social media gathering. This makes it perfect for finding people just like you!

Our big tip here is to work out what you are passionate about then discover the places other people with the same passion hang out. Make some friends!

Use social tools to find your tribe

Use social tools to people with common interests, goals - find your tribe!

#4: Shared Goals

OK, I get it, you do not have time to chat. Rather than interests, find people with the same goals. Join mastermind groups, training, workshops, partners, joint ventures … Again, LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter are all places where you can find potential partners, and be informed of training or workshops that are taking place.

There are also hashtags you can follow for almost every event now, so you can follow the topics and who is representing remotely.

Find people who are aligned with what you hope to achieve and you are more likely to achieve it.

#5: Sense of Connection

Once you have found the people who match your criteria, you can start having conversations without feeling like you have to do this big routine to break the ice. Once you are in conversation you can maintain the relationship with a light touch, knowing they are only a Tweet or status message away.

I’m one of those people who HATES the telephone, but finds it easy to have a gajillion textual conversations on the go each day! Maintain your connections by remembering to keep listening for your networks news, and let people know what is going on in your world too.

Update Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with any changes and to let folks know you are still thinking about them!

#6: Self Disclosure

A big part of forming human relationships is “self disclosure” where you give people a little of yourself, your story, and your thoughts. Of course social media is full of self disclosure to the point of Too Much Information at times!

Through your blog, photographs, video and your updates you can give people a sense of who you are, your personality, and they can pick up as much or as little as they need.

What you need to take care of though is decide your boundaries, how much you are happy to share, and to ensure that you are not giving people a distorted or unhelpful impression.

#7: Community Cohesion

Once a part of a community social media helps you strengthen the bonds, through news, discussions, events, and help. Through social media you no longer have to wait to access the latest gossip!

Be careful that you are seen a positive influence and a genuinely helpful community member through what you say, your sharing and your actions.

Summary

I am an introvert so before the social media tools came around I often struggled to make progress with networking. Through social media I have been able to make great strides, at a distance, so now even this shy networker can develop a brilliant support network.

How has social media helped you with your networking? Please share in the comments …

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Comments

  1. #8 Fast feedback: if something isn't working, the silence can be deafening, and that's a very good clue to change tactics. (Or strategy)

  2. Chris – great list and I couldn't believe this more. I absolutely love the ability to connect with people on Twitter and LinkedIn – particularly Twitter. And I find it so refreshing and easy to be able to connect in conversations where we have those shared goals already. Connecting around a common purpose really helps – particularly online. But nothing beats face to face, ultimately. And that's why social media is great for breaking the ice there too.

    I recently assessed my network and realized I was more connected outside my own city so have been making strides to form meaningful local connections too. But as someone relatively introverted at times, I, too, have found social media a wonderful place to start forming the connections.

    Good luck with your move to Calgary!

  3. thanks for sharing Chris

  4. I am also a “shy networker”…I am trying my best to learn Twitter as fast as I can as this seems to be the major place bloggers connect. I signed up to do ProBlogger's “Build a Better Blog in 31 Days” and some of the tasks have definitely brought me out of my comfort zone, but after the fact, I am glad I did them.

    I found your blog through this challenge and it has been a wonderful resource. Thank you!

  5. Are_Morch says:

    Hi Chris.

    I really enjoyed this article. Great insight.

    Plus I thought it was a cool touch to add your own little case-scenario to #1 Visibility. That is a technique I really have to adapt. Not only provide the list, but add on some demonstrations on how it actually works.. cool..

    Cheers.. Are

  6. Marlenechism says:

    You offer such practical insights. I love your writing and your advice.

  7. Warren Hayford says:

    Chris, great post. Maybe you might want to add Reputation Building. LinkedIn provides questions which when you answer build up your reputation as a guru.

    Some people likewise use Twitter to help others out for the same purpose (ex. #howcanIhelp ) I'm sure there are other ways as well.

    In this sense, social networking is a publicist for you and your organizations much as webpages have become advertizing.

  8. Michael Van Osch says:

    Chris – agree with your points and add a little different spin to your #1…best way to do the initial positioning of your business/self with your target markets. Good luck on the move to Canada and thanks for the shout outs to us Canucks. cheers, Michael

  9. Chris – wonderful post! I especially love how you talk about the fact that you should find people with mutual goals, not just mutual interests. I think that in many cases, we're first attracted to those who have the same interests, but to develop the relationship into a beneficial one, the mutual goals are what's truly important.

    Personally, one of the reasons I love social media is because I home office. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give me a venue to reach people all over for support, partnerships, guidance…and sometimes, just fun! But even when it's just for fun, I keep in mind that it easily could be a stepping stone or part of a business relationship.

  10. Leslie Stafford says:

    Great list, Chris. I'm still new to the social media world, but I'm finding that jumping in and learning as I go.

  11. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks for the good luck wishes – it's a big move :)

    I had the same realization, I was hardly connected at all in my local area. Something I aim to not repeat with the new location!

  12. chrisgarrett says:

    Jump in, it's the best way to learn – just remember to listen as much as participate :)

  13. chrisgarrett says:

    While in Melbourne I was working in an office for a full week and found I had really missed that human contact. Not enough to make me take up a job again :) but I think social media is my water cooler :)

  14. chrisgarrett says:

    Agreed, showing your value before you get there has to be a great benefit :) Canucks rock :D

  15. chrisgarrett says:

    I like the idea social media is a publicist for you – I guess we just have to watch out for it publicizing our mistakes too ;)

  16. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks :)

  17. chrisgarrett says:

    Not everyone likes personal touches but I do find it is a key way blogs differ from other writing – people want the facts, how-to, but with a connection?

  18. chrisgarrett says:

    Love that you arrived via 31DBBB and @problogger – cool :)

  19. chrisgarrett says:

    You're welcome :)

  20. chrisgarrett says:

    Quick, quality feedback is a great use of social media, good point!

  21. malcolm12boxes says:

    I'm far from being expert at using social media, but I am amazed at the way in which my quality of interaction with 'the world' has evolved and improved since I've been making some effort.

    I particularly think #6 is very important. It can be a double edged sword, but if you are authentic and polite (not always a natural combination!) small bits of communication over time can build up a coherent picture in the minds of others, and one hopes this is validated in real life.

  22. There's a lot to be said for having shared values and a shared vision, and speaking the language of your tribe.

    It's like a lightening rod for results … and more hands makes lighter work.

  23. Thanks for sharing this to us chris.

  24. There is no doubt about it – social networking is a must-do. I still have trouble getting into it though. It seems to take up so much time and yet I keep plugging away at it.

  25. I definitely agree with your points, social media is the new approach for business development and survival.

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience about Social Media. Social Media is quite an effective way for Business promotion.

    ________________________

    Villas in Spain

  27. Chris you're going to freeze in Calagry so make sure that you buy warm clothes for the winter!

    Also due to the oil boom and increased migration to the city there was a housing shortage. Builders built homes fast and construction quality went down. It may not be a good idea to buy a home that was built within the last 6 years.

    Best wishes to you and your family with respect to your moving plans.

  28. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks Dennis :)

    The real estate crash in UK and the rising house prices in Calgary are making the move challenging but trying to keep optimistic :)

    It was funny seeing people in Brisbane bundled up in scarves, coats and sweaters because of the “cold” 24c weather … thinking of times my beard has frozen with icicles in Canada ;)

  29. chrisgarrett says:

    It can take a lot of time if you let it, best to set a timer and batch your social media activities or take part when you are on a coffee break :)

  30. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you like it

  31. chrisgarrett says:

    I find it is difficult to build real connections with people who do not share your values. It is much more enjoyable and easier to network with people who are moving in the same direction. That is not to say you avoid people who disagree, that can be important too, but there is a difference between being challenged and being offended :)

  32. chrisgarrett says:

    It is funny how when you meet people in real life who you have gotten to know online first how much you can build on these small things :)

  33. malcolm12boxes says:

    Agreed. Twitter is a way of 'thin slicing' interactions with people – which is just what we do in real life anyway, often without realising it – and 'overhearing' their interactions with others. What people look for is sometimes called 'congruency'. Do all the bits of information I am experiencing with this person add up to a coherent picture of someone I want to know, and could like and trust?

    Twitter also affords opportunities to offer people small bits of help – like a contact for something, or passing on a message. Cialdini (the influencing specialist) talks about 'reciprocity'. If you help people in a small way, which does not overwhelm them with a sense of obligation that they cannot match, they seek opportunities to respond by 'helping back'.

    All of that stuff helps to build a foundation for trust so that your first real life conversation is starting at a point that would otherwise take a couple of hours to reach.

  34. I fully admit Chris social media is not just changing the way we interact today but can be beneficial in our professional pursuits to reach a larger target audience. I really love your style of writing when you put yourself into everything you write…great work.

  35. Excellent information.thanks for sharing

  36. I'm curious to know if there's any way that social media doesn't help us… I'm not trying to be the negative guy here Chris, I'm a big fan of technology and social media, I just made me think. Hmmm could we live without social media?

    #8 Instant gratification – you get to know about anything when you want.

  37. O man Chris,

    Social Media is my magic juice for networking – I don't know what I would have done a few years ago – seriously !
    “work out what you are passionate about then discover the places other people with the same passion hang out”
    That's my magic recipe for getting in touch with peeps – I find similar mavericks and then just shoot them a direct message. I tend to be as passionate as a monkey on fire, so approaching peeps never seemed to be a big problem for me.

    I personally think that Twitter is the greatest networking technology available – nothing beats the feeling of connecting instantly with peeps around the world.

    It's so easy actually: find people that fit your wave length (or challenge yours !) and find a way to put value into each other's life.

    Thanx for the reminder Chris, I was a bit sloppy with my networking lately. Got to put some fresh energy into it ;)

    Shine…on !

  38. chrisgarrett says:

    “as passionate as a monkey on fire” – I like that :D

  39. chrisgarrett says:

    Social Media is tempting like a drug, so the main way it doesn't help us is with “focus” – it can be a compelling distraction if we are not careful. We all did live without social media, but I think my life and work has been enhanced by it :)

  40. That's so right, FOCUS!! I can get of track from what I'm doing easily with it. Thanks Chris

  41. Social media can be another big source of traffic if we invest some time and dedication in it, Having a profile is another important factor in social media and networking success.

  42. I agree with all 7 of your points – The thing that has been really standing out for me lately(as I reflect on my last two years in social media) is how important the sharing of core values is not only in establishing new relationships – but in then deepening and sustaining them online. There are those I have met via social media who share an aligned content interest – yet over time it became clear that our core values were not fully aligned…that is the key constant I see in the the relationships I have developed via social media that have deepened from acquaintances to true friends and even business venture partners. Thanks for launching the exploration of this topic Chris! ;)
    Amy (@LotusAmy)

  43. i am looking for the way to get money from social networking…
    did you have idea ?
    thanks

  44. chrisgarrett says:

    Having partners or contacts where core values were are not aligned can cause some serious friction, especially when your reputation is in THEIR hands .. often not pretty!

  45. … To summarise the article …

    “Socialise with people who are passionate about the same topics you are… “

    You wouldn't go fishing in a stream with no water in it … So don't go and socialise in 'networks' lacking a complimentary pool of passionate people.

    All the best.
    - Paul.

  46. Even in my own small metropolitan area, social networking has connected me with people I would never have met otherwise. Many of these new acquaintances and friends have given me opportunities that have allowed me to start a new business!

  47. chrisgarrett says:

    But people do! I just a minute ago read an article where an internet marketer seeks out people who earned more than $100k a year. This is a great plan if it wasn't for the fact that the only thing these folks had in common was money. Most people are not that 1-demensional.

  48. yeah, thanks for this post,interesting article,I cant help but get the point,im not using it as well as i should