Networking in the social age goes beyond in-person conventions, conferences, and meetups. Social media has gradually become a highly valuable platform for professional conversations and communication. When nurtured and used properly, your social media presence on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can positively impact the strength of your network and help you grow your own personal brand. Here are four easy steps young professionals can take to get started with social media networking.
Find thought leaders
Your first step is scouring the web to find the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of vocal thought leaders in your field of work or industry. These people usually have a following for a reason: they’re highly opinionated and engage regularly in discussions about specific topics. If you’re in the early stages of your career, you may want to get started by just reading their conversations, learning from what they say, and expanding your knowledge base.
Eventually, you should be confident enough to get involved in the conversation. Tweet back with your own take on the information or opinions these people present. Find relevant articles that impressed you and share them as conversation pieces. You’ll find that many of these thought leaders respond to people who provide value, regardless of age or experience level, which opens up opportunities for future interaction.
Beyond getting involved in Twitter conversations, you can also start interacting with various professional communities you can find online. The first place to look is LinkedIn, which has a robust search engine to help you find relevant groups. Look to join open communities and find an invitation to closed ones with active users that regularly share relevant content and engage in discussion.
You can also take advantage of broader online communities like Quora and Reddit. Use their topic or subreddit filtering to interact with active like-minded professionals, contribute to discussions, and learn from others while sharing your expertise. Take the same steps in these LinkedIn groups and online communities as you did on Twitter and begin to get involved in the conversation.
Get involved on a deeper level
When you get involved in online conversations with thought leaders and communities, you should always listen first and contribute an original opinion next. In contributing, add your perspective and experience. Even as a young professional, you may have a great new spin on something that’s been done the same way for a long time. Take the time to evaluate the way you do things at work, or how you wish things were done, and bring that view to the conversation. Ask for others to do the same.If you find someone in the thread who is very helpful and insightful, ask them if they’d be willing to continue the conversation via email or private messaging.
Starting your network at this early stage of your career allows you to expand your professional knowledge ahead of your time in any particular field or industry. You’ll have a support system prepared for the eventual next step in your career. You’ll already have a well developed personal brand and known as a valuable contributor in the communities you actively participate in.
This type of deep participation can prove infinitely valuable in the future. After all, the highest quality hires are made through referrals. Having these interactions increases the chance that someone, at some particular point in time and in some particular position, will vouch for you at just the right moment.