Improve your networking skills with social media

Jonathan Pollinger from Intranet Future provides some useful tips on using social media to maximise your networking efforts.

  • Jonathan Pollinger (Intranet Future)
  • Monday 27 January 2014

Networking meetings are all about meeting new people, making connections and building mutually beneficial business relationships and can be a huge help in growing your business. But networking requires a lot of time and if you're anything like me, a fair bit of effort to haul yourself out of bed for those early morning breakfast meetings!

To make the most of your networking efforts, you'll want to be as effective and efficient as possible. Below are some practical tips on how you can use online social networks to to make the most of your offline networking.

Before a networking meeting

It's important to prepare before you attend a network meeting, so you can make the most of your time there. Identify people who are going to attend and who you'd like to speak to. You can find out names of attendees if a Facebook Event has been setup and by following the event hashtag on Twitter. If there's a speaker, do some research and get to know a bit about them so you are all set to start a conversation. If you are particularly keen to speak to someone why wait until the event? You can start talking to them on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. Pro-tip: Personalise your invitation to connect on LinkedIn and mention the networking meeting or a mutual contact.

During a networking meeting

Once at the meeting, consult the attendees list and ask people for their business cards. It's good etiquette to ask first rather than thrust your own business card at everyone. If you need to find out more about a person, look them up on your phone using the LinkedIn app. Speak to people that you've got to know on social networks to put faces to names and to get to know them. Take a photo of the venue, room or surroundings or some of the delegates but make sure you ask their permission first and then tweet about the event – don't forget to include the hashtag. Pro-tip: Use Instagram to apply a filter to your photo to add a professional touch.

After a networking meeting

When you're back at your place of work, go through the delegate list and business cards you've collected and add names and contact information to your address book for future reference. Then to build relationships, connect with people on LinkedIn. It's helpful to tag people with categories such as 'prospect', 'business partner' or 'supplier'. Twitter can to develop a relationship or talk with people you didn't have a chance to meet. You can Search for attendees then show an interest in them by following them, starting a conversation or being helpful eg by answering a question. If you found the talk useful, you should thank the speaker and share any insights and tips across your social networks. Pro-tip: Use LinkedIn Contacts to add notes about a person plus a reminders to keep in contact.

I'd encourage you to use social media to enhance your networking and help you form and build relationships with prospective clients, business partners and suppliers; people who can help you develop and sustain your business. If you have any networking tips please share them in the Comments below.

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