We all have multiple networks that weave across our lives and businesses, and as a social media trainer and manager, one of my goals is helping you make the most of your network. One of the main reasons I love social media, particularly for business, is that it offers so many opportunities for bringing people together who might otherwise not meet.
And those connections can lead to many amazing ways to grow relationships, visibility and business—for yourself and for the people around you. Most of us “know” hundreds of people, though we only interact with a fraction of those. Even solopreneurs need a strong network: remember, balance and support is critical to business success—don’t try to go it alone!
So how can you grow and make the most of your network?
First, ask yourself what purposes you have for networking.
- Is it to stay visible and relevant for your business or career?
- To help and grow a following you can support, educate or inspire?
- Do you want to help other people or groups you care about?
- Or maybe it’s simply to help counteract reduced interactions related to the pandemic?
Adjust your plan to serve your “why”
Setting time aside to follow through based on your purpose and goals can help improve both your experience and your results. Some ideas:
- If you’re growing a new business “visibility” habit, like “I want to post or share articles on topics related to my business twice a week,” create a personal scorecard or checklist to keep track of your actions vs goals.
- Are you growing a community? Cross-sharing your information every few weeks is a terrific way to spread the word.
- Do you want to use your network to help others? Set aside a block of time each week to review your connections and consider who you could link up.
- Or if you’re looking for more human contact overall, but aren’t comfortable with in-person gatherings, invite friends to an online web call. You could play games, mix up cocktails, cook meals simultaneously, do bible studies, or any number of other shared past times.
Next, consider different ways to interact:
- Is candid, off-the-cuff sharing your ideal style? Posting video (live into a platform or recorded and shared from your phone), or even sending video or audio messages directly to individuals or groups of contacts through a platform’s chat, is fast and easy.
- Do you belong to a lot of online groups? Most groups would permit you to share praise for other members anytime, and as often as you like. This is a great way to serve others in your network (both the person you’re highlighting and the people who may need them), and increases your visibility in a positive light. (Read some related ideas in our past post on customer appreciation.)
- Don’t forget about those offline groups you belong to, either. Are you a chamber member? Active in a professional association? Don’t forget to connect with your fellow members on relevant social media platforms, or by email.
Growing your network can also be done “live” even in the current heavily virtual climate:
- Dedicated business networking groups like BNI and the Women in Networking group known as WIN. (Remember, even if you’re not ready to commit to one, you can offer to be a substitute for members and/or attend visitors’ days.)
- Speed networking events.
- Speaking at groups and being interviewed on podcasts.
- Also, take advantage of private chats during networking meetings on Zoom—make it a goal to set up several one-on-one meetings with others at every meeting.
Connect with your local networks
Don’t forget to connect with our local Central NC network—and be active to help extend yours:
- The Triangle Social Media business page on Facebook
- The Triangle Social Media’s Meetups group on Facebook (also on MeetUp for those not active on Facebook)
- The Social Studio run by me and Helena Richardson—live on Facebook every Thursday at 5pm
- The Business Owners meetup group—also on Facebook, we meet 3rd Thursdays of each month (currently virtual)
One important detail to bear in mind, no matter what method or platform you’re using: being consistent is important. Out of sight really is out of mind. If you want to make the most of your network, you need to show up, and be a connector!