6 Tips to Build Your Social Media Network

Build social media networkTo build your social media network effectively, you need a community. To this end, it’s important to develop your social media tribe. Your ultimate goal for networking is to bridge online to real life relationships. Regardless of the platforms you use, you have to nurture real life relationships because these are the most authentic. To expand your base, you have to be an active social media participant. For companies and brands seeking to build a presence on these platforms, it’s a real challenge because if you stick to your sanitized, marketing-speak, people will leave you.

Being part of online social networks is about figuring out more about who you are and finding people who like the person you are on those platforms. As Baratunde Thurston, a stand-up comedian at heart, said, social media platforms are like a dance that you can improvise and push beyond standard practice. At one point, he was @Swineflu on Twitter because he thought it that it would be funny to have people followed by @Swineflu. Unfortunately, not all of his followers understood his humor.

Everyone positions themselves online. Since you can show different aspects of yourself on different platforms, be careful about how much you share publicly. Connecting with others via social networks is an iterative process, as you have more interactions online and offline,  you let people see other aspects of your life. Since social media platforms make money from your use of them, you should be conscious of what you use them for and what you want to get from them.

To get attention on social media, show that you have something of value to share rather than assessing the potential results it will yield. Think about how you want to use each social media platform. Consider the difference between your public engagement and more private exchanges. (To help, think about how communications are used.)

Realize that, while you may want some communications to be private, the recipient may make it public. Therefore, never say or post anything that you wouldn’t want your significant other, mother, children, boss or best friend to see. Remember older forms of communication can be highly effective for certain types of exchanges. Keep your communications relevant to the platform and the conversation.

In the social media ecosphere, the Old Testament’s advice holds: don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you. In other words, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they may perceive your interactions. Do they seem creepy? Just because you’re interacting online doesn’t excuse poor manners, bad behavior and/or digital grabbiness. Reach out to people organically based on authentic communications on various networks and value these relationships.

Further, regardless of how well you network and how many social media platforms you use, you have to learn that there are times when you just have to walk away because the person you’re working to persuade is never going to hear your message. In these situations, the more that you engage with these individuals, the more problems there will be. Further, the more engaged you are in general, the more likely it is that you’ll encounter them.

6 Tactics to build your social media network

To help build your network, here are six tips based on my experience on both sides of the networking table.

  1. Identify where and how you present the different aspects of your life. Think in terms of personal, professional and passion (like hobbies and interests).
  2. Mind your manners. While this sounds old fashioned, it’s amazing how many people overlook basic etiquette. Also, bear in mind that the reader may not speak English as a first language. Just because you can find someone on a social network, doesn’t mean that you have a right to ask them a favor.
  3. Add to the social good and/or knowledge. At the core of social media is the unstated rule that it’s not about you. It’s about the community.
  4. Pay it forward. Don’t think what will I get out of this. Rather be helpful to others and make it easy for people to help you. Make your requests specific, concise and reasonable. For example, provide a LinkedIn recommendation for someone who once worked for you.
  5. Put your hours in. For most, non-celebraties, it takes work to build an effective network. To this end, spend time on various social media platforms engaging with others.
  6. Answer WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for the recipient. What’s the benefit for the person or people you’re sharing content with? It’s unreasonable to assume that someone with whom you have a weak connection will find you a job or introduce you to Mr. Important.

While it takes work, you can build your social media network. To this end, it’s important to think about how you want to present yourself and see how you can help others. Remember, on social media, it’s not about you!

Are there other tips that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they and why would you add them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Hat tip to the Power Networking Panel at Social Media Week New York City.

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Photo credit: Save vs Death via Flickr

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