Imagine that someone told you about a GREAT new networking group that you just HAD to try! “EVERYone goes and there is a ton of activity!”, they promise. Always on the lookout for good networking opportunities, you would probably take the time to check it out.
Imagine now, your first visit. You arrive to find the room packed with people and, judging from the volume, there really is a lot of activity going on. You enter optimistically and pull up a chair between two people. You turn and introduce yourself to the person on your right. “Hello, my name is…” Oddly, you notice that the person has not turned to meet your gaze.
She is staring straight ahead and you realize that she is talking, to no one in particular, even as you are introducing yourself!
She is, in fact, almost hypnotically reciting a litany of her awards, degrees and achievements. “graduated magna cum laude Harvard Law, Forbes 500 women to watch, Presidential sub committee on…” she continues, even as you try to interject a compliment and congratulate her on these accomplishments. “Oh well” you might think and turn to your left to introduce yourself there.
As you reach out your hand to the man on your left, you notice that he too, is speaking, straight ahead, to no one in particular. Offering a blow by blow description of his breakfast and early morning dog walk, he looks right past you as he anxiously scans the room as if waiting for someone to arrive. Since he doesn’t acknowledge your overtures, you might decide to change seats.
As you get up, someone strides across the room, hand outstretched, to introduce himself. Relieved to finally meet someone, you shake his hand and offer your name. The man seizes upon the name, loudly repeating it and exclaiming how happy he is to have met you – how LUCKY you are to have met HIM! How HE is going to make you MILLIONS!! TODAY!! RIGHT NOW!! His tone rises with each exclamation until you realize he is yelling. Right at you!
He follows you briefly as you turn to head out the door but is quickly off to pounce on another new arrival. As you gratefully leave the room you think, “Who in their right mind would possibly recommend a group like this?!”
And yes, your first forays into Social Media may feel like this. Especially on a platform like Twitter! As I always say: “Who you follow + Who follows you = Your networking experience” (Both in real life and online)
Compare that awful experience above to the following:
You walk into the room and see a number of people you recognize as famous authors and industry leaders. Listening in, many of the conversations you hear are interesting and you realize that you can add useful comments and suggestions. People are talking about topics you are familiar with and you want to join in. You introduce yourself and people want to learn more about you. You are fascinated by the people you meet and excited to have the opportunity to ask questions of authors whose work you admire. You mention your own book and people offer to introduce you to bloggers that are influential in your field that might be interested in reviewing it. You cannot believe your good fortune and can’t wait to thank the person that suggested you attend the meeting.
What a difference!
On most social media platforms, you have the opportunity to determine who you would like to associate and network with. And you have the ability to filter new people by interests and industry so you can identify those that you can help and will be interested in what you can offer.
By taking the time to identify and follow people and communities that are of interest to you and those that will be interested in what you have to share, it will make the time you spend networking online, MUCH more valuable.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind when creating your community on Twitter:
- Search Twitter, using your industry keywords, to identify people that have those keywords in their bio’s and/or tweets.
- Visit those profiles and see what they post before you decide to follow someone. Do not follow people that are Spamming or selling you. Do not follow people that are shouting or insulting. Do not auto-follow back. Remember, these are the people that you will visit with each time you go online, make sure that they are a group worth spending time with!
- Review the Twitter “Who to Follow” suggestions (in the top navigation bar, between Home and your thumbnail photo) Please note that the more you use this tool, the ‘smarter’ it gets. For example, if you are interested in wine, first they may send you all wine related profiles, but after you pick thru them and choose only the California wineries, they will start to offer more of those to you.
- Try a tool like “http://wefollow.com/” and/or “http://www.twibs.com/” to identify possible matches by industry, tags and/or city. You can also add YOUR name to these directories so you too are found by people looking to build their own communities.
- Make sure that YOU are adding to the conversation. This is all about engagement and contributing content of value. Make sure that you are valuable, contributing member of the community!
Online networking CAN be a very valuable way to spend your time, just make sure that you choose carefully when setting up your community.
Want to learn more about Twitter?