Networking has always revolved around building authentic relationships in a way that can lead to new opportunities. In today’s world, social media provides a really unique way to network. With platforms like Instagram and Twitter, you can instantly reach out to and connect with almost anyone: your friends, a celebrity, an editor at a magazine, the CEO of a company, or an employee at your dream job.
Using DMs to get your foot in the door might seem difficult, but with some good social media-focused networking strategies, you can create relationships and professional opportunities for yourself with ease.
Make sure your social media profiles are professional
I’m not saying you should be inauthentic or staged on Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform, but you should be aware what you’re posting and who might see your profile. Would you want someone who could end up hiring you to see that video or picture?
Keep your profiles active
If someone reached out to you asking for advice or even to work with you, and when you clicked on their profile, you saw that they hadn’t posted anything since a blurry photo uploaded three years before, would you want to connect with them? Probably not. Make sure to be active on whatever social media platforms you have. Engage with others regularly, especially by responding to comments on your photos and replying to your tweets or Facebook posts.
Share your accomplishments
Social media is all about sharing, so you should want to do this anyway. If you have a really exciting opportunity, make sure to update your followers about it. If you’re really proud of that paper you submitted or the conference you attended, be sure to post! Companies and professionals love seeing that you’re passionate, and that you’re proud of and willing to promote the work that you do. This is almost a secret resume tip: you can showcase your skills, passion and drive with a single post in an organic way.
Be aware of how you present yourself
Aside from the actual content you post, the language, grammar and spelling you use, plus the positivity versus negativity of posts on your social media platforms, all can affect the way your followers (and potential networking connections) will view you. Since networking on social media focuses on a relationship built digitally, you have to remember that you don’t get the opportunity to make an in-person first impression—even if you meet eventually, the other person or employer will have preset ideas about who you are and what you’re like. Make that digital first impression a good one, and you’ll be all set when your networking skills eventually land you that dream opportunity.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
Professional opportunities and chances to build relationships don’t just fall into your lap. You have to take initiative, reach out and see what can happen. Whether you’re reaching out to a brand you love with the hopes of collaborating on a skincare post, or you’re reaching out to someone in your industry that you really admire, it can feel scary. However, there’s no harm in trying, and the recipient of a well-crafted networking attempt will probably be thrilled you reached out.
Do your research
Know what a person’s role is in a company before you reach out. Make sure that your message is professional, friendly and open. Let the person know that you really admire a certain project they worked on (and be specific about why—they’ll definitely be more impressed!) or how you found their page.
Focus on building a relationship first, and then ask networking questions once you have your foot in the door. Opening a conversation with a question like “Hey, could you help me get hired at this company?” isn’t how you would network in person, and it definitely isn’t how you should network on social media.
Look in surprising places
I personally have found that it’s easier to network with someone in a similar role to the one you’re looking for than it is to immediately network with someone higher up in the company. For example, if you want to write for a certain magazine one day, you could reach out to a contributing writer instead of going right to the CEO or a senior editor. If you wanted to get a job as a social media manager, connect with other social media managers.
One reason to focus on creating a dialogue with someone who works in a similar role to the one you’re looking for is the increased chance of being able to relate to each other personally, not just professionally. For example, if you’ve just graduated college and are looking for a full-time paid internship at a company, you should try to network with someone who is interning currently, just finished an internship or works at the company but started in that role.
Aside from the obvious connections that bloom from a similarity in age, interests and professional drive, you’ll be able to learn more about the role first-hand. Knowing what you’re getting into and how to succeed in that position before you get started can be vital for a smooth transition once you get the job!
Focus on building your skills and knowledge base
Asking for advice and tips on how to grow as both a person and professionally is a smart way to network. The other person will see how focused you are on getting to where you want to be, and you avoid seeming overbearing or selfish in asking for job help. You can reach out to people who work in the industry you’re networking in and, after letting them know why you respect them and the work they do, ask for some advice on a specific topic.
Be consistent to keep the conversation going
No relationship sustains itself. Both parties have to put in effort, and since you’re the one reaching out and networking, make sure you’re being genuinely thoughtful and articulating questions that create valuable conversation.
Use engagement and growth strategies to connect further
The more people you network and connect with, the more chances you’ll have to impress someone or form a genuine relationship that can grow into an opportunity. Expand your network and develop your skills. You never know who you’ll really mesh with, and where that relationship can go!
Be yourself, always
Don’t worry about whether or not a person will like you or respond. Basing your self-worth off of a conversation on Instagram or Twitter (and off the perception of someone you’ve never met in person) is really unhealthy. Be your authentic self, believe in the skills you have and know that whether or not a networking conversation pans out how you’re hoping, just making the effort shows a lot about your passion and potential.
Networking in all of its forms is immensely valuable, and social media is an unexpectedly effective tool to immediately build relationships. Your network of contacts can grow to be much wider, more diverse and more powerful in shaping your path. As long as you are authentic, friendly and willing to do a little research and be prepared and professional, the social media you already know and love can open so many doors for you, no matter your industry!