How to network in the digital age

How many followers or friends do you have on social networks? It may be hundreds if not thousands. Now answer me this, how many of those people would you feel comfortable with asking for a real favour? Not too many I should imagine.

 

In the digital age, our connections are becoming vaster in number, but increasingly lower in quality. Yet the point of tools like social media and digital communications was supposed to make meaningful connections easier.

 

Not only is this pretty sad in terms of our personal mental wellbeing, but it also fails us in a business context as well. People do business with people they like and a loose ‘follow’ or ‘like’ is far from somebody truly trusting and liking you.

 

In this article, we look at a few things you can do to improve your networking in the digital age and get more out of these tools we use every day.

personalise

 

Have you ever noticed how impersonal ‘interactions’ on social media are? You can follow and unfollow people at the click of a button, you can show you ‘like’ some of their content in the same way and don’t even get me started on copy and paste generic comments.

 

However, this vast array of impersonal interaction has made personalisation even more valuable in today’s modern society. Just taking a small amount of time to personalise your interactions will go a long way to boosting your network.

 

Do this right from the get-go, with personalised connection requests on LinkedIn and even personalised tweets, DM’s or messages when someone follows you on other platforms. By personal, I mean put a little time into reading their profile, tell them you liked something they wrote or ask them a question. Showing that you made an effort and find them interesting goes a long way.

 

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ping

 

In his book “never eat alone” networking legend Keith Ferrazzi recommends constantly connecting with your network as a way to remind them that you are there and also as a way to constantly bring value to the audience you are trying to reach – he calls this ‘pinging’.

 

This act has become infinitely easier in the digital age with many platforms such as email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp allowing you to quickly connect with your network straight from your smart phone or computer.

 

It is important to note however that you should always seek to add value with these connections.

 

connect and collect

 

Further to the point above, bringing something useful to the table for your connections is key to tapping into the power of a network. A direct message asking “how r u?” or a couple of comments like “nice pic” or “like it” are going to do little to put you at the forefront of people’s minds.

 

There are a couple of key ways you can help people. The first and most powerful is to connect. If you listen and understand what your connections issues are you are able to help by making connections. This might be making a connection between two people or alternatively sending someone a link to a recommended product or service that will work as a solution to their issue. Secondly you can collect information that is relevant to their interests and show them you understand what ‘floats their boat’ by sending it over to them.

 

the golden ticket

 

In a digital age, it is easy to neglect the most important factors in networking well – human interaction. This can be easily added into your networking through the use of technology such as Google Hangouts or Skype. Alternatively, you can utilise the completely un-technologically advance but massively powerful act of grabbing a coffee and having a chat.

 

This article has covered off some of the key issues we face in a digital age when it comes to networking. We have shown why human interaction is key and adding value to those in your network will take your audience from present to engage with you or your brand.

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