Networking on social media platforms is the single most reliable way I gain both skills and clients. That’s saying something, since I’m a guy without a Twitter account, and the only snaps in my life are those coming back from the better half.
The Big 4 – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
When Morgan and I first started Jolly Content, we were relatively amateur businessmen. Thankfully, we already had HR experience, could wrangle spreadsheets, and, of course, knew how to write great content. But, what we were missing was an understanding of just how vital a solid network is to longterm business development. Incorporating networking tips was crucial to upping our game.
How many times have we all heard this?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Finding the Right Connections
The world’s largest social media platform, Facebook, offers the chance to connect with over 2 billion individuals. I’m not just talking commenting on selfie pics, either, but genuinely professional discussions in industry-relevant groups.
Want to keep it (more or less) strictly professional? LinkedIn offers over 250 million opportunities to build your network – add me with a note that you read this article, and I’ll gladly increase both of our professional circles!
Whatever your industry, these platforms have immense value to offer. HVAC? Digital marketing? Cannabis? Mortgage services? Facebook and LinkedIn both have numerous, active groups in almost every industry filled with professionals and curious clients waiting to network with you.
Pro networking tip: Advanced social media users will post regularly to Facebook business pages, and share regularly on LinkedIn. This inbound marketing strategy may be slow to take off, but it will generate sustained interest over the long run.
Case Study #1: Facebook Groups
In my own small silo, one of the most valuable Facebook groups I participate in is The Content Marketing Lounge, run by my coach and mentor, Nathan Collier. I learn more about my craft from this group of 3,000 professionals than I do from any other source.
The icing on the cake? I’ve gained several clients from this group. How?
By becoming a longterm member, sharing knowledge and offering helpful advice when you can, as well as asking questions that others may be too intimidated to, you make a name for yourself. Every week, we aren’t just ‘liking’ posts, but also engaging in the comments section of interesting posts.
Whether fellow group members agree or disagree with you, always keep it respectful.
That groundwork pays off: a few weeks back, when a fellow group member needed to refer a former client out, my name stuck out in their inbox because we’d previously exchanged messages a handful of times.
Beyond that, certain trades even enjoy industry-specific job boards on Facebook, such as one for fellow copy heads, The Cult of Copy Job Board.
It takes a village to… errr… build a business?
Case Study #2: LinkedIn Feed
You couldn’t ask for a better platform to increase your business prospects.
I’ll admit, I was hesitant to sign up for LinkedIn – as a small business owner, what did I need a digital resume for? I don’t care if a middle manager at a corporation wants to interview me for a desk job.
Here’s why, as it goes something like this:
- ‘Connection A’ comments on a post of someone I don’t know.
- I’m intrigued, and make a comment of my own.
- The original poster (OP) jumps into the fray, or even reaches out via inbox right away.
- Within a few minutes, I’m sending over samples and rate quotes – all without ever pitching my services.
How long does it take to gain traction?
Building your list of relevant connections until your network is broad enough that you start interacting with potential customers and bigger players in your industry can take anywhere from one week to several months, depending on how much time you devote to social networking each day.
Let’s Get Clicking: Where Do I Go from Here?
It’s time to take action. To sum up the above social media networking tips, make the following a regular practice:
On Facebook, use the right search term, join active groups, respectfully contribute value:
1. In the search bar at the top of the screen, type “your industry + location.”
2. Navigate to the groups tab, and join those with multiple new posts per day, and 1,000+ members.
3. Start commenting on threads, even if it’s as simple as “I agree.”
4. Elevate your interaction by offering actionable advice.
5. Always keep it respectful.
6. Only openly advertise your services when you have explicit permission from an admin!
On LinkedIn, connect widely, be genuine, provide value:
- If you are a local service provider, neighbors and family members are great starting points to grow your reach in the local audience.
- Actively peruse your home page and news feed to find relevant threads to comment on.
- Send a note with all connection requests, and personalize it!
- What made you click ‘connect’ with them just now?
- Anything on their portfolio that resonates with you?
- Know someone in common?
- Even better, have some advice for a problem they shared?
- Connect with former clients:
- By remaining active with them, you will begin to see posts they comment on you can jump into, and their network will see your posts as well!
Always send personal messages with your LinkedIn connection requests
Make sure you connect laterally, and upwards as well; networking with fellow professionals, even those who may seem like competitors, can generate opportunities you’d never have anticipated.
P.S. Looking to jump over to Twitter or Instagram? I’ll admit, those are not my strengths. However, I know a great guy who manages our clients’ Twitter campaigns!