Sunday, June 9, 2013

7 Simple Tips To Grow Your Social Network

7 Simple Tips To Grow Your Social Network
Bernard Marr

Best-selling business author and enterprise performance expert

A strong network is important in todays connected world. Having the right
connections gives you credibility and allows you to interact with peers,
customers as well as potential employees. Today it is hard to imagine that
companies would offer you a job without checking your LinkedIn profile.
Your standing in your industry is increasingly determined by your profile
and network on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube.

Admittedly, I have been quite late to the game of social media and must
stress that I am by no means a social media expert. However, what I have
done seems to be working well for me and I am enjoying an ever-expanding
and effective network. In the beginning I simply started posting,
connecting, inviting and sharing and today I grow my network by about 300
connections each day. To date, my network has generated many new business
opportunities and helped me to connect with likeminded people.

When I started using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube about 2 years
ago my intention was to simply build a network and engage with people in my
field of enterprise performance management, analytics and big data. Let me
share with you some of the lessons and tips which I hope you will find
useful. These are not 'rocked science' and won't require you to spend hours
on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn each day. I probably spend less than about
an hour a week on building my network and feel it is time well spent. Here
we go, my seven tips:

   -Choose the right networks- the landscape of social media platforms
   is changing every day and new platforms emerge. When I started I picked
   LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube because they seemed to be the most
   popular ones and because they make it easy to share content (with share
   buttons on so many websites etc). There are others that might be useful if
   you operate in more creative industries. For example Pinterst is an
   emerging platform that allows you to tag and share images. I am looking at
   it at the moment but I haven't used it yet. From my own experience I find
   LinkedIn and Twitter to be the most effective for a business network. On
   Twitter I have now over 50,000 followers and on LinkedIn about 35,000
   connections, while my Facebook page lags behind with only about 3,000 likes or so.

   - Tell people who you are - Remember that potential employers,
   customers and peers will check you out and you have to make sure your
   profile looks as professional as possible. First of all have a complete
   profile with a photo that shows your face. I get many requests from
   LinkedIn members each day and I am much less likely to connect to anyone
   who has no profile picture. Also, create an interesting profile write up
   that stays away from cliches such as 'self motivated, driven, and results
   orientated' - these kind of phrases are so out-dated and meaningless
   (especially if they are coming from you on your own profile!). Make sure
   you concentrate on the relevant things and make a professional impression.

   - Actively grow your network - For me networks like LinkedIn and
   Twitter are like giant networking parties and everyone is invited.
   Connecting here is a bit like the real world: Don't be shy and stand in the
   corner, go up to people, introduce yourself and start a conversation, then
   exchange business cards and move on. What works well for Twitter is to
   simply follow people you find interesting and would like to connect with. I
   find that many of the people I follow will then follow me back - maybe out
   of politeness but hopefully out of interest! Simply type relevant terms
   into the profile search to find people in your industry. On LinkedIn it is
   similar only that people have to accept your request to connect. Again,
   search for people in your industry (using company names, profile key words,
   etc.) and then send them a customised invite. Stay away from the standard
   invite. The reason for this is that I get about 10 spam invitation a day -
   from fake spam accounts that want to place advertising on your up-dates or
   hack into your connections. Getting a personal invitation request with an
   explanation of why a person would like to join your network usually works
   and at least tells you that they are real.

   - Say something interesting and often - it is not enough to simply
   create a great profile, you have to join the party and interact with
   people. The best way to do this is to produce regular up-dates (initially
   maybe once a day or a few times a week). This shows that you are active and
   engaged and soon people will realise that you have something interesting to
   say and you are an interesting person to connect with. Every day I read
   news feeds and online articles about my area of expertise and whenever I
   find something new or noteworthy I share it with my network. Most online
   publications have simple share buttons that allow you to keep your network
   informed. Try to stay away from making sales pitches, people will only
   follow you if you have something interesting to say. Another really good
   way to engage with like-minded people is to join and post on LinkedIn group
   discussions. Join as many of the relevant groups as you can and follow
   their discussions. Once you are comfortable with what is being said start
   commenting or posting. I find that 3-5 posts a day work best.

   - Don't mix private with business - Your business connections don't
   really want to know what you had for breakfast, whether you had an argument
   with your spouse, or how many pounds you have lost (or gained) in weight
   this week. Even though it sometimes might be interesting, it is not
   professional. I find it difficult when people mix business and private.
   This can be a tricky balance and might mean you have to chose some networks
   for business and others for private. Another way is to set up different
   accounts - one for your private connections and another for your business
   contacts. This way you ensure you don't send your business contacts
   embarrassing pictures from your last fancy dress party (even though this
   might be very funny). I use LinkedIn and Twitter purely for business. The
   normal Facebook I use privately and I don't accept any business connections
   into it but use a Facebook page to connect with business people. That way
   they stay separate.

   - Keep to an agenda - Remember that you are trying to build an
   effective network of people in your industry or area of interest. They will
   only follow you because you are interesting or have something interesting
   to say. So stay on your agenda. For example, I am interested in running and
   keeping fit but I wouldn't write posts and up-dates the latest running shoe
   on my Twitter account. Don't mix completely unrelated topics as this is
   likely to put people off. However, feel free to connect topics that are
   related. For example, I cover different angles of enterprise performance -
   from leadership, strategy, IT, human resources or business intelligence.
   Hopefully my audience will appreciate the different related angles. And if
   there is a story about managing performance in sports that is relevant to
   my audience, then I post it too.

   - Measure your success - Finally, measure your success. The beauty of
   social media is that you can measure everything and you can test what is
   working and what isn't. You can see how many people are reading your posts
   on different topics and you can learn from that. You can see how many
   people invited you to connect after specific posts and you can try
   different invitation texts to see which one gets the most connections. 

So, these were my seven. Of course, since we are talking about social
media, feel free to connect and join the networking party.

Edited by: Lawyer Asad

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