The World Wide Web is a place of give and get. This means you get the most from being online when you interact with others and share what you know to exponentially grow your network of colleagues and customers.
The explosion of social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, is testament to this. With 14 million Australian Facebook members alone, these social media sites offer a wealth of opportunities to network and meet like-minded people through their online groups.
Being a member of a social media online group provides you with a convenient and easy way of learning, sharing and connecting. This activity will not only widen your network, it will help you keep up to date in your area of expertise or interest.
So here is how you extend your network through social media online groups:
Set yourself a reason why
We all have limited time, so before deciding which social media online group(s) to extend your network, set yourself a reason why. Your reason why may be to get more leads or it may be to find people interested in collaborating with you on your next business venture. It may simply be to stay ahead of the pack on what’s moving and shaking in your industry. Whatever it may be, ensure you link it to your overall networking goals.
By working out what you are aiming to achieve through networking with others online will ensure you are not wasting your precious time being involved in discussions and activities which don’t meet your needs. Your reason why will also allow you to stay focussed on what is important.
Select the right group(s)
There are a multitude of social media online groups, ranging from business networking groups to industry/topic specific groups. Draw on your reason why to help you narrow down which social media online group(s) you will join. If you can’t find the right group, then start one yourself as there’s sure to be other people looking to network on the same theme or topic as your reason why.
Don’t feel that you need to join a group that has the most members. Networking is a numbers game but consider quality over quantity when selecting your online group(s). If the group posts are ‘open’ then review the posts of the group to gauge relevance and the regularity of the group’s activity before joining. Don’t feel you have to stay in the group if the group’s interactions are not meeting your needs.
Be an active member
Joining a social media online group for the first time can be very daunting. It is like going to your first networking function with people you have never met, so approach it in the same way. Start by introducing yourself and stating the reason why you have joined the group. If you are not comfortable with this in the first instance, don’t be afraid to just ‘lurk’. That is, watch how the group interacts with one another to understand the group’s etiquette before contributing to any conversations.
Like all good networking, always ask questions of the group to find out more about who they are and what they know. Remember, there’s never a stupid question. It’s all about learning and networking. Asking questions also helps to create conversations and means information that benefits others will also be shared. Take the time to respond to other people’s posts, as well as, share interesting information that others would find useful.
Stay on top of the activity
Not many people have the luxury of constantly re-visiting their social media online group(s), so have the group’s activity come to you. You can do this either through email alerts or by receiving alerts through the social media app on your mobile phone. This way you can monitor which of the group’s activities are relevant to you without having to dedicate large amounts of your time.
Reassess your reason why
After participating in the social media online group for a while, take the time to reassess whether your reason why has been met or whether it needs to be changed. As we learn and grow our networks, our need for more or different information or networks changes, so evaluate whether your activity in a social media online group is helping your reach your overall networking goal. This may involve exiting the group and/or find more groups.
Contact us (email or 0400 732 270) now to find out how to extend your network through social media online groups.