Alex Napuri | @AlexNapuri
Social media is such a large part of our personal lives that it seemed only a matter of time before it became a major part of networking as well. The following three sites have taken the place of meeting in person over coffee or lunch.
This first site was created for the workforce, so it’s no surprise that it has taken over the online networking game. LinkedIn is THE social media platform for professionals. There is, however, more to LinkedIn than just making an account and adding connections. Sending personal messages is one of many ways you can draw someone in to viewing your profile. Once they have viewed your page and you already have that initial message to make them familiar with you, this can then lead to a face-to-face meeting or online endorsements. Just like that, you have made a connection that is more than the random connection invitations we all get from strangers. This person is now more likely to read your page in depth and review your resume than just scrolling through your page to see how they might know you.
It takes only seconds to send someone a tweet. This is much shorter than the hour or half hour it would take to grab lunch or coffee and immediately gets you on their radar. If you are trying to introduce yourself to a person who is very busy, chances are they will not have time to meet with you in person. But if you can get their attention on Twitter, they will likely have the time to carry out a conversation online. If you’re looking for more than just a cyber conversation, impressing them on Twitter can encourage even the busiest person to make time for you. Plus, Twitter has a direct messaging option so you can talk directly, rather than tweeting back and forth.
Lastly, and maybe most surprisingly, Instagram can be a useful tool for networking. A simple, interesting comment on a picture can grab someone’s attention. With Instagram, however, you do have to be careful to avoid coming across as if you already know the person. Be careful to be relatable to them or reply with something intriguing instead of something about their appearance or personality. Instagram, like Twitter, has the option for direct messaging, or sending a photo directly to someone. So, if you get going in a conversation and want to share a picture of what you are discussing, you can send it to this person and hopefully get your foot in the door for a connection.
However you choose to connect with others on social media, make sure it is through a site they are active on. If you see that they haven’t sent a tweet in the past month or they don’t reply to tweets directed at them, but they posted a picture on Instagram yesterday, you clearly have a better chance of them noticing you on Instagram. Once you have determined their most-used site, get their attention. This way, you are bound to stand out from the sea of people emailing them to meet for coffee.