Does spending more time on social networks make you a better employee? That’s one conclusion that can be drawn from new data from Evolv, a startup that monitors metrics from Fortune 500 companies.
Though they examined hourly employees, I would argue that, no matter your position, the more active you are on social networks, the more successful you are likely to be because of the networking resources at your disposal.
Networking is not just about finding a new job or new clients, but rather a tool to better perform at all aspects of your job. And workers who are plugged in to social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter have a host of tools and resources at their disposal that others might not.
It used to be that you had to find someone in your own personal network or company if you had a question about the best sign vendor or app to use; or wanted best practices on managing or marketing.
Now, thanks to social media, we are immediately connected to literally the entire world if we want to be!
Here are some ways to mine two top business-oriented social media outlets for networking success.
Networking via Twitter is easy because you don’t need reciprocity. In other words, you don’t need to “ask” the other person if you can follow them, as you would when you “friend” someone on Facebook or “connect” on LinkedIn.
To find people to follow on Twitter, think of colleagues, competitors and leaders in your field. Include industry news sources and bloggers to help find great content that you can retweet. A great way to find people to follow is to shop other people’s lists to see who they follow. And watch the sources of their retweets, as those people can be advantageous to follow too.
Most people include their Twitter handle on their business card or email signature line so make sure you do the same – and follow those whose paths you cross.
How do you turn this into a networking gold mine? By showing some love to the tweeps you follow! Respond to someone’s tweet if they’ve posted something funny or asked a question….or better yet, retweet it to your followers. Most Twitter users will notice who retweeted them – and appreciate it!
As you start building that relationship, you might find that you have something specific you want to ask them, or that you have a business question. If you want your correspondence to be confidential, “direct message” them (if they follow you too; or find their personal email on their profile if it’s included.) Be sure to remind them who you are, especially if your Twitter handle and name are not the same!
The most obvious way to network on LinkedIn is to build your connections by sending invitations to everyone you know: colleagues and clients; and former colleagues and clients.
But one of LinkedIn’s “secret weapons” is the Groups, where you can freely connect with like-minded professionals around the world. Search under “Groups You May Like” or “Groups Directory” to find all that pertain to your business and choose some of them to join.
I always subscribe to the “daily digests” so each morning I get an email from the groups I’ve joined that shows all the discussion threads. That way I can easily see what’s being talked about, timely blog posts or articles fellow members have shared, and any questions people have.
If it’s a topic I know a lot about, or a problem that I myself have struggled with, I’ll leave a comment. If it’s a blog post or article that I read and enjoyed, I’ll comment on something that I learned or found especially interesting.
Sometimes I’ll ask a question to get the conversation started, or post a link to an interesting news item with a brief summary of what I learned, why I enjoyed it or my opinion. This helps add value to the discussion rather than just cluttering up the site with a bunch of link threads.
While groups are a great place to get information on others’ best practices, it also offers a forum for you to find others to network with. When you see someone’s name coming up over and over, and find their contributions to be worthwhile, send them an invitation to connect.
Make sure you personalize it with your own note, rather than just using the generic “I’d like to add you to my network.” Mention the group to which you both belong and then tell them you find their content valuable and want to connect.
At that point, cultivate it just as you would any other business relationship. Continue to share their content to your followers and send them an article that you think might be of interest. Follow them on other social networks.
Using social networks to their highest level allows you to open up your network in ways not possible on a face-to-face level. Nurture these relationships as you would any other that you made through networking and see how the power of the Internet can power your career.
by Cathie Ericson