Making connections are crucial for getting ahead in any career field. Reaching out to the right people can open all kinds of doors to new and exciting opportunities — and social media is a great way to find those “right people.”
Whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Instagram, participating in your industry’s social media community can help you make new connections and establish yourself as an expert, if you’re smart about it. Here are a few tips that have helped me network with other professionals via social media.
Follow active, engaging accounts.
If you want to get the most out of the time you spend networking on social media, look for accounts that actively engage with their followers and share a healthy mix of content (i.e., not just their own article or product links). If you find that an account is posting too frequently and clogging up your feed with irrelevant items, it’s okay to unfollow or mute them.
Participate where you can.
Unless you’re getting paid to manage social media accounts, you probably don’t have time to be checking and posting throughout the whole work day. However, if you have a few minutes to spare during your breaks or in between tasks, use that time to catch up on what people are sharing and commenting on, and when it’s appropriate, share or comment on something yourself. When done correctly, this activity will signal that you’re on top of industry news and have something valuable to contribute to the conversation. If you want a few more tips on this point, I wrote this piece about developing a good professional social media presence.
Keep it focused.
You should always look to inject a little bit of personality into your social media presence, but if you really want to use it as a tool for professional growth, try to keep the majority of your content focused on your industry, your career, and your work or side projects. The occasional tweet about your latest Netflix obsession or a great restaurant you discovered is fine (and welcome!), but without a clear theme or focus for your posts, people are unlikely to recognize your account as one of industry authority and expertise.
Don’t trash talk anyone.
In today’s culture, it’s pretty common to complain on social media when you’ve had any kind of negative experience. As tempting as this is, it’s probably not a good idea to get too specific when you air your grievances. The most obvious example would be bashing your employer, but even bad-mouthing third parties outside your company can be detrimental. I see this happen a lot with journalists complaining about PR pros — who, as a reminder, spend a lot of time trying to help reporters chase down stories. I won’t pretend I’ve never vented about a frustrating professional encounter on Twitter, but it’s incredibly unwise to call out a person or agency by name. You never know who other people in your network know — a potential employer, business partner, or client might look at your feed and be dissuaded from working with you because of what they find there.
A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
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