Networking just isn’t what is used to be. You used to get dressed in your best suit, meet at the latest high-end restaurant/bar, and pass out your business card while balancing your wine glass and shaking hands. While some of that does still go on (and can be very valuable) a lot of networking now happens online.  Instead of meeting 20 new local people after work, you have access to an endless number of contacts through your computer. But can making connections online be as valuable as making connections in person?  Yes, it can! And it’s not that difficult.

COMPLETE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES

You know that LinkedIn profile that you started and never did anything with? It’s time to get cracking and fill it out. You don’t have to spend hours putting detailed descriptions for every job you’ve had since high school, but at least make sure all past employers are listed. You also need to choose a few important keywords and make sure they appear in your headline and your summary section. That’s how people will find you on LinkedIn. And trust me, one of the first things most professionals will do after they meet you is look for you on LinkedIn. If they can’t find you, they may never follow up with you and become a strong connection in your network.

START USING TWITTER

I can’t keep count of the number of professionals who’ve told me that Twitter is useless. In fact, I used to be one of them! Not anymore – I’ve figured it out! Create your Twitter account and start following the important people in your industry. They are tweeting out links to cool articles, talking about their latest projects, and giving you a prime opportunity to get to know them. Just retweet an article they post and you’re likely to get a personal thank you. It’s an easy way to start a conversation and to build a new connection for you.

JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS AND FAN PAGES

For long time I saw Facebook as just a way to keep up with my family in other states. And I have to admit that I wouldn’t want my professional contacts to be exposed to pics of my son’s first trip to the zoo (even though he is the cutest little guy in the world!) However, I’ve learned that many of the professional organizations I belong to have Facebook fan pages or group. And those Facebook areas provide a completely different way to connect with other people in my industry. You don’t actually have to become “friends” on Facebook to interaction and connect with others. For those times when I do friend someone, I use lists to keep the personal content personal and only show business content in their news feeds.

So you don’t want to spend hours a week on social media? I have good news, you don’t have to spend hours. Just put an hour or so a week into these tools until you figure out what kinds of social media activities will be the most valuable for you. The returns can be incredible!

How do you use social media to make connections? Share your tips in the comments!

Does Social Media Help or Hinder Networking?

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