How social media can help you to network

Specially written for by Jonathan Pollinger of Intranet Future

Networking meetings are all about meeting new people, making connections and building mutually beneficial business relationships; they can be a huge help in growing your business. But networking requires a lot of time and if you’re anything like me, a fair bit of effort to haul yourself out of bed for those early morning meetings over breakfast!
To make the most of your networking efforts, you’ll want to be as effective and efficient as possible. Below are some practical tips on how you can use online social networks to make the most of your face to face networking.

Before the networking meeting – Prepare!

Before you event get to a networking meeting it’s important to prepare, so you can make the most of your time during the meeting. Take some time to identify people who are going to attend and who you’d like to speak to. You can find out names of attendees if a Facebook Event has been setup and by following the event hashtag on Twitter. Some online booking systems display delegate names too. If there’s a speaker, do some research and get to know a bit about them so you are all set to start a conversation or ask them a question. If you are particularly keen to speak to someone why wait until the event? You can start talking to them on Twitter or connect and message them on LinkedIn. Pro-tip: Personalise your tweet or invitation to connect on LinkedIn and mention the networking meeting or a mutual contact.

During the networking meeting – Engage!

Once at the meeting, consult the attendees list and politely ask people for their business cards. It’s good etiquette to ask first rather than thrust your own business card at everyone. Don’t be ‘that’ person! If you need to find out more about someone, look them up on your phone using the LinkedIn app. Speak to people that you’ve got to know on social networks to put faces to names, engage and to get to know them. Take a photo of the venue, room or surroundings or some of the delegates but make sure you ask their permission first. Then tweet the photo along with appropriate text including hashtag. Pro-tip: Use Instagram too. You can select the venue and to apply a filter to your photo to add that professional touch.

After the networking meeting – Follow up!

When you’re back at your place of work, go through the delegate’s list and business cards you’ve collected and add names, contact information and notes to your address book for future reference. Then to build relationships, connect with people on LinkedIn. It’s helpful to tag people with categories such as ‘prospect’, ‘business partner’ or ‘supplier’. Use Twitter to develop a relationship or communicate with people you didn’t have a chance to meet. You can search for attendees then follow them or start a conversation. If you found the talk useful, you should thank the speaker and share any of their useful insights and tips across your social networks. Pro-tip: Use LinkedIn Contacts to add notes about a person plus reminders to keep in contact.
I’d encourage you to use social media to enhance your networking and help you form and build relationships with prospective clients, business partners and suppliers; people who can help you develop and sustain your business.

Local Networking Events

There are plenty of networking events local to Cheltenham; formal, informal, women only, breakfast time and evenings. Here’s a selection including some I help to organise which are highlighted.

Laptop Friday – Weekly co-working and networking – Smokey Joe's Bennington Street, Cheltenham – More details here

If you have any networking tips, please share them on facebook or Twitter, mentioning @glosinfo and @intranetfuture.


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Jonathan Pollinger - Social Media Trainer

Jonathan provides practical, tailored in-house social media workshops and one-to-one training that gets results. If you’re a small business or charity, get in touch!

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