Networking on social media is a must today and yet, reaching out to an individual or company on social media can sometimes be difficult. You might find yourself in a place of uncertainty; you begin wondering, how exactly do I go about this? I don’t want to just leave a comment, I want to reach out and I want to get a response. The question persists, “What is the best approach?”
The best approach is difficult to pinpoint as there are various avenues of pursuit you could take, and much depends on trial and error –yet all is not lost in ambiguity. There are some very specific measures you can take to ensure you do not come off looking like a stage-five clinger or just another face in the crowd.
Here are my top 5 tips for making your initial approach:
Get your own account in order
You must start with the realization that you are networking on a social media platform – social being the operative word. What this means is, you need to present yourself as open and authentic, you need to embrace the understanding that social media is designed to be a two-way street. If your profile is set too private, it won’t provide enough pertinent information for your target audience to vet you. I suggest offering at least some significant information; provide your audience with your name, a website (if applicable), some well thought-out posts or photos, and a comprehensive bio that speaks to not just who you are, but why you’ve chosen to use this particular platform.
Do your research
There are many ways to go about doing a bit of research. You could start by taking a look at their various social media feeds,their website, the services they offer or even their Wikipedia page if they have one. If they have a blog or podcast, invest a bit of time in that space. Your objective is to be informed; you might even pick up on their passions and acknowledge what they are interested in. This might sound a bit like stalking but in reality it is merely doing your homework. The last thing you want to do is to ask a question pertaining to the obvious. This will leave you with one of two results: they will either not respond at all or they will kindly direct you to their related resource and shut the door.
Look for mutual contacts
Networking has always been about contacts. Social networking has made this more pertinent than ever. Consider how often you vet a friend request based upon the mutual friends list. When I get a message and it mentions a common contact, it piques my interest right away. A picture starts to form in my mind as to what the possibilities might be and I am encouraged to respond, if for no other reason than mere curiosity. I will warn you, however, that there is no faster route to a disconnect, unfriend, or block than to falsify a connection you do not have. Remember, authenticity is key and posers are easily identified.
Compliments will get you everywhere
“Wow, I just read your blog, you are the most impressive writer I have read in all my life! How many awards do you have?” Well, you may not want to go overboard, but compliments are nice. Take a minute to consider why you want to make this connection, consider the value you feel you’ve been given by what has been availed to you so far. Form a nice, genuine compliment from there. If you’ve applied some advice that was given in their most recent podcast, then provide some feedback and express your appreciation. If you seek out their account daily and engage publicly on a regular basis, mention why they’ve attained your loyalty, and be specific. This is where human-to-human interaction comes into play; this is where basic communication becomes so much more –it becomes social engagement.
Be a straight shooter
It is not insulting to be brief and direct when initiating social media engagement. If your communication attempt looks more like a novella, just know the delete button will probably get hit faster than Usain Bolt clearing the blocks. Account holders with large followings will not see your brevity as an insult. Rather, they will appreciate it and be glad you are respectful of their time. Once you’ve received an initial response, you can then begin to build a rapport and broaden your communication from there. Remember, the primary objective of the first communication is to evoke a response; the rest will follow very much like a traditional conversation.
It is my hope that these tips have given you the confidence to begin engaging on social media in a professional and forthright manner. If you start to feel concerned about the process, consider that most account holders on social media have the same objectives which you do. They are there to promote, connect, and engage. They want new business and they want to connect with others who share their interests. Remember, if you can find common ground, you can find connection.