Have you found your Twitter follower count to be a bit lacking? Not so many folks connected with you on LinkedIn?
What you probably need is to get back to the basics of networking.
You can read tips everywhere about how to use Twitter better or how to get your Google+ profile up to par; but your real problem may be more deeply rooted than your #hashtag preferences. The following tips are just a few ways to really network successfully both online and in the real world.
1. Work on your communication skills
It’s easy to make a social connection. On Twitter you simply follow someone. On G+ you invite them to hangout in your circle. But what about genuine networking that goes beyond getting someone’s attention?
One word: Listen. Or in the case of social networking: Read.
Take the time to understand whether or not the person you are about to follow is even remotely interested in the same things you’re interested in or if they could care less about your products and services.
When networking with people in a real-world context, maintain a positive attitude throughout the conversation. Listen to what they have to say. Look them in the eyes, and make sure your body messages don’t reflect an attitude of impatience, boredom, or disinterest. You can accomplish this through sitting still as opposed to shifting your weight constantly. This will relieve their concerns; it also shows respect for their invested time.
Ask engaging, open ended questions. Asking questions can take a conversation to a deeper level and help uncover more information, allowing yourself to create a stronger connection with your listener.
2. Follow up on leads
Quality is always more important than quantity. Follow up with the people you connected with at an event, seminar, or online. It’s important to understand that meeting fifty people is good, but having the right connection with a few is more of a benefit in the long run…for everybody.
Before following up on a lead, be sure to have a game plan ready. This will help avoid any awkwardness on your end and also help ensure you come off as someone who knows what they are doing. Remember, if you are networking with the right people, then you are a resource for that person.
After an initial interaction, consider maintaining a business relationship through future follow-up. Send a postcard during a holiday or a thank you note since they took the time to talk to you. When have you ever been annoyed to get a personalized note saying, “Thanks for your time”? So don’t be shy about following up.
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