How many times has this happened to you: You are networking at an event or conference and meet people who you really connect with, get their business cards and contact info, invite them to connect with you on social media, send them a few tweets or post a few times on their Facebook pages and then…nothing. Relationships you hoped would lead to new ideas, interaction and new business go nowhere.
How can you prevent new social media connections from fizzling out and take them to the next level? Here’s a step-by-step plan.
1. Get On Their Radar
Like new plants in your garden, new connections need some extra attention and nurturing at first. In the first month after adding a new contact, make it a point to interact with him or her a couple times a week—not to the point of being pushy, but simply letting him or her know you’re interested in them.
2. Focus On Them
Keep your interactions with new contacts from coming off as slimy or creepy by focusing on their interests and needs—not yours. Ask questions about what they’re working on, compliment and share their blog posts and articles, and send them useful information that will be of value to their businesses. For instance, if you recently connected with a graphic designer and you see an article about new trends in website fonts, send it along with a note to say “I thought this might interest you.”
3. Get Personal (But Not Too Personal)
People do business with people they like, and liking is built on personal factors. Don’t keep your social media relationships solely business focused; share things like your hobbies, stuff you’re doing with your family or friends and personal accomplishments or goals like training for a marathon. This will help you find common ground with new acquaintances.
However, keep it on a “professional personal” level—nothing flirtatious, sexual or creepy.
4. Hold a Social Media Event Together
If you meet someone that you really connect with on a business level, try holding a social media event such as a Twitter chat about a topic you’re both interested in. By tapping into each other’s networks, it can bring both of you new attention and business, while also building your relationship. For instance, if you own an architecture firm, you could host a Twitter chat with an interior designer about how to plan a home addition.
5. Organize a Social Media Meetup
Are you in a social media group with people you’d like to get to know better? Maybe you’re in a LinkedIn group that is very active and helpful to each other. If enough members of the group are in the same local area, why not organize an in-person meetup? Choose a location for lunch or dinner and conversation, or decide on a theme like talking about a business issue you’re all concerned about. The key to a successful meetup is planning and commitment—get enough people to commit to attending that even if some flake out, you’ll still have a good group.
6. Meet Up One-On-One
You can interact all you want on social media, but it still doesn’t have the punch of meeting someone IRL (in real life). To truly bond with a social media connection, invite him or her to get together one-on-one for coffee or lunch. If you’re shy and this idea stresses you out, plan an activity like attending a networking organization, conference or seminar together that you’ve attended in the past and know will be useful to the other person. You won’t have the burden of talking nonstop, but you’ll have time to get to know the other person better.
Don't let a valuable relationship pass you by, just because it's online. Utilize the tools you have and you can create an awesome business relationship that will be mutually beneficial.
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