Get Beyond the Noise on Social Media
Social media, like any media platform, is a crowded and noisy place where making meaningful connections is an art that can be learned mastered with a few simple steps. Once you understand how to use the medium you have a canvas on which to create connections that bring you more clients and more fulfilling communications online.
The more connections you have, the noisier it gets.
Typically most people get on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn to be social and/or simply to connect personally. That’s the easy part. Looking up your friends and adding them to your social networks is a great place to start to grow your community. The downside is that you may find your inbox barraged with email from these networks of all the updates. Plus, when you login to these sites, your home feeds are chock full of interesting and not so interesting messages. It can be overwhelming if you think you have to pay attention to this. As I always tell my students, I give you permission to ignore all the generic email notifications and please avoid the home pages.
If you are looking to make meaningful personal and professional connections with people you don’t yet know you’ll need to develop a plan of action and some online navigation skills. Here is my formula for networking online:
7 simple steps to networking and making meaningful connections
1. Establish your purpose for making connections
If you just hop online and start messaging everyone you come across, this shotgun approach will backfire on you (pun intended). Really, give some thought as to why you are going to spend time on these networks. Here are some reasonable objectives to consider: Are you wanting:
- To grow your audience and build brand awareness and reputation,
- Engage, educate and entertain a community aligned with your passion and have them rave about your brand
- Offer customer service
- Acquire more leads
- Drive traffic to your web pages.
2. Get Clear on Who You Want To Connect with
Once you’ve established a viable purpose for being on social media, it is imperative that you define your market specifically.
Do you have a description of your ideal client/customer and their influencers? In marketing we call that your avatar or persona. If you can write a story that describes who this person is, you’ll be able to determine where to find them, what to say to them that will captivate them.
In addition to describing both demographics and psychographics, the most important thing to map out is what their greatest problems are that your products and services solve.
For example, one of my avatars is Wellness Professional Robin.
I created a story about Robin’s life, work, challenges, and goals. How she had struggled with her health for years and had a life threatening condition. She knew she wanted to be around to play with her grandkids. She found a solution and became dedicated to helping others. She has a big heart, went through a big transition, and changed her life, became a health coach, makes her family a priority, and has been a convert to holistic health, wellness, healing, and meditation. She is open minded, positive spirited and grateful for her life. She now struggles to get clients. She knows she can help others, she doesn’t know how to use social media to attract them. It just seems like it’s a waste of time, no one’s listening or she’s not meeting anyone new or who would be interested in her work. Her personal posts get some attention but sometimes she wonders if she shouldn’t share so much about her work. She has never done any marketing. Though she does get some referrals through word of mouth marketing…. and so on.
The above story exercise is a great way to generate content copy for that connects to your audience and converts
3. Determine what networks and groups your niche audience is in
Search LinkedIn, Google Plus and Facebook for groups these people. Each of these social networks has search capabilities. In LinkedIn you can do a specific search in groups for your topics. In Google Plus you can do the same with their communities. Listen to the conversation and connect personally with those who ask or answer in ways that you can take the conversation deeper.
4. Do your homework
Search and verify by listening that they are your peeps. Hangout in these groups before you jump in. Find out what the rules of the group are. Often times you’ll find a description or “About” section that will tell you. Notice what others are doing that is getting good feedback. Be wary of being self-promotional
5. Reach out in a sincere, authentic and, non-threatening way
When you read about someone and you are inspired, touched, or even confused, you might reach out and let them know. If you are confused, that means you may have a clarifying question you can ask in an open and positive way.
6. Offer something that they would find helpful.
This does not mean offer them a product to buy. Genuinely offer them something of value for free. That could include a free resource, ideas, opportunity to speak at an event or on a telesummit, your phone number to answer questions, etc.
7. Take Your Online Connections Offline.
Eventually you may grow your relationship to the point where it makes sense to take your online connections offline. That doesn’t have to take long depending on the person, and mutual benefit of deepening your professional relationship. Real business happens once you build the trust and credibility. Meeting in person or on the phone often serves that purpose.