networking

Smart Social Media Strategies to Advance Your Career

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.

Image credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com

Meeting a Professional Contact for Coffee? How to Make the Most of Your Time

I often receive invitations from fellow media professionals asking to meet for coffee or drinks. This is a common networking tactic in many industries: Snag 30 minutes of face time with a professional in a similar line of work, and you’re guaranteed to come out of it with at least a few ideas about how to work together.

While I can’t always spare the time, I do try to set up at least one “networking coffee” a month. They’re a more efficient, personable method of discussing possible ways to collaborate than a lengthy email thread or a rushed phone call. It also gets the person a solid “in” with me: I’m far more likely to remember someone with whom I’ve had a face-to-face conversation over someone whose name is buried in my never-ending inbox.

When you’ve only got 30 minutes or less of someone’s already-limited time, you want to make the most of that half hour. Here are a few tips to ensure a successful and productive one-on-one meeting with a professional contact.

Know who you’re looking for — and make sure they can find you.

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you might waste five or 10 minutes looking around for each other, only to discover they’ve been standing near you the whole time. Hopefully you and your contact will have looked each other up on social media to get a picture for reference, but to expedite the process, you should let them know how to find you before they arrive at the meeting location — for example, “I’m at a table near the back window,” or, “I’m wearing a blue shirt.”

Ease into “business” talk.

Making plans to meet with a professional contact isn’t the same as introducing yourself at a networking event. You don’t need to cram a sales pitch about your agency or clients into a few brief minutes. There’s a little more time for pleasantries and small talk, and you should take advantage of that to build up a rapport with the person. Ask how their day is going, where they live, or what they like about their work before diving into business. Taking a genuine interest in the person as a human being, rather than a means to a business partnership, sets the foundation for a great professional relationship.

Pay attention to information about the person’s job.

You likely already know this person’s job title, but ask them about their work anyway — and then really listen when they answer. You might learn something you didn’t know about working with people at that company. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed, calculated decisions that help both of you.

Follow up.

Common networking wisdom dictates that following up with the people you’ve met will keep you fresh in their minds and remind them to keep the wheels moving on any opportunities you discussed. Make sure you send the person a quick note thanking them for their time and recapping the conversation you had. It will pay off when the person responds with a potential opportunity to work together.

A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack.

Image credit: creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos (CC0)