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Follow These 6 Steps to Network Like a Pro

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Social media is the ultimate playground for networking but how do you connect with people beyond a quick comment to make a true connection? It takes time to learn the subtle nuances of networking online but creating a communication channel with interesting and relevant people in your industry can be very beneficial.

6 steps to network like a proAs an author, there are several different levels of people to connect with: your future audience, people you will want to work with to get your book published and other authors for support and to share knowledge. Each of these will require a slightly different strategy but use these six steps as the basic tenants for your social networking and you'll be off to a great start!

Using the good old social skills that you learned from mom are the best way to connect with others. People enjoy talking with people who are polite, friendly, and helpful. As Thumper's father said,“if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.”

This is true on more than one level. First, just because you feel anonymous online doesn't mean that you should blast people with your personal diatribe. Second, everything that you say  and do online builds the pieces of the puzzle that people use to formulate their opinion of you and decide if they want to talk with you, follow you or possibly block you if you come off as a jerk.

Try getting these six pieces of your social media networking in place and you'll be connecting with others in no time.

1. Be ready with your elevator pitch

You have a very brief amount of time to make that great first impression. Have a short but interesting elevator pitch prepared so when someone asks what you do, you can say that I am the world’s foremost expert on chinchillas and I wrote a book about it! Shoot for 25 – 30 words that will draw your listener in and pique their interest. Practice this and finesse it so that you are comfortable sharing this the moment you have the opportunity. This comes into play on Google+ hangouts when people are asked to introduce themselves, being prepared with a short statement helps you from looking like a deer in the headlights when you are live and being recorded.

2. Complete your profiles on every platform you have an account

When you meet people, many times the next step is to check social media profiles for more information. Use descriptive, clever language that explains who you are and what you do. Being vague or leaving it blank gives the message that you are not interested in being open or maybe not interesting. Ouch. Use your space wisely and be as consistent across your bios as possible. Pick a few keywords for your bios that describe you.

Keep in mind that some people meet you first through your social media profiles. Make a good impression.

If you don't have a website you can create an About.me page for free which is a nice visual representation of who you are with links to your social media. Vizify is another fun way to create visual bio. I tweak mine every now and then to keep it up to date.

Additional reading: Tips for a Fabulous Social Media Profile

3. Introduce yourself to people who you'd like to connect with

I'm not a fan of the “push the influence with the influencer” type of connecting. I'm advocating that you find people who you'd like to connect with and tweet them or comment on their posts. Some people have made an art form of commenting on other people's blog and created strong networks with other bloggers this way. It seems to be very effective.

If you do try to connect with an influencer, keep in mind that they get lots of notifications from many different platforms. They may not have time to respond and might not respond to each person that comments or tweets them. It's also possible that they don't even see every notification.

When you are networking, there is no guarantee that this will build a relationship. You are saying “hi, this is me” but do so with an open heart knowing that you're taking a shot at it. Be patient. I've had people who I've tweeted or commented on their blog and they never responded. You shouldn't take this personally after all, they don't know you.

4. Follow up with people who you meet

If you meet at a conference and collect a stack of business cards, connect with them on social media as soon as you can while you are fresh in their mind. There are hopefully a few important people who you met that you should follow-up with an email. Go beyond collecting the business cards and connect on LinkedIn with people who you'd like to work with in the future.

5. Connect through social media channels

When I meet someone cool, I make sure to follow them right away on the platform I met them. It's very easy to forget someone's name or how to spell it. If you follow people immediately when you think “oh, what was the editor's name that I met last week” you can check the people you are following or that are in your circles. Many people miss this step and the connection dissolves.

Pro tip: I cross-pollinate my profiles on other social platforms. For example, I share my Pinterest and Instagram bios on Twitter every once in a while. I have more followers on Twitter so my theory is that people on Twitter would like to follow me on Instagram or Pinterest as well. This helps build all your social media platforms and creates a solid author platform.

6. It doesn't stop at hello, continue to build the relationship

As the saying goes, the grass is greener where you water it. Connect and grow your network with social media. {click to tweet}

Some pitfalls to avoid: being pushy, having an agenda and being selfish.

One of the biggest benefits of networking is finding people who you can share ideas with and talk about what you are doing. Rebekah Radice is someone who I met online in a Facebook workshop and we connected on Twitter. I respect her work and wanted to get her perspective on how to network on social media.

Q What social media platform do you feel is best for authors or writers to connect and network?

Twitter was my first social media love and a tool I initially used to follow and connect with my favorite authors. I am an avid reader, enjoying non-fiction as well as fiction, and found Twitter to be a central communication hub for many of my favorite authors. As I began to research who to follow on Twitter, I was amazed at how accessible so many of them actually were.

To me it was an incredible opportunity. Here was an author whose latest book I had enthusiastically devoured now responding directly to my queries and thoughts. Was it fun to keep up with them in a far more relaxed and intimate environment? Absolutely! Was their use of this social media tool invaluable to the fans and author alike? You betcha!

Q What are three ways that you can connect on this network?

So how can you use Twitter to connect and engage with your legion of fans?

Build Valuable Connections

Not only does Twitter offer authors the chance to connect with readers in real-time, it also promotes trust and builds credibility.

Sharing your wisdom, knowledge and everyday thoughts surrounding your area of expertise goes a long way towards establishing real relationships that translate from the online to the offline world.

Generate Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Another benefit to forming meaningful relationships with fans is the word-of-mouth marketing that it generates.

The more your fans know, like and trust you, the more apt they are to share the news about you and your latest book. Work to turn fans into raving fans that will have a significant impact on both your marketing efforts and book sales.

Use Relevant Hashtags

If you are new to Twitter, hashtags can be a little mystifying. However, with the proper use of hashtags, you can expand your reach and grow your fan base. Hashtags allow you to put your content in front of a group of readers and writers actively searching for the exact content you are sharing.

How does this work? Hashtags are searchable. Meaning any hashtag you add to your tweet is added to a stream of similar content.

For example, the hashtag #suspense would connect anyone interested in suspense novels with tweets and conversations happening around that topic.

Begin by identifying relevant hashtags based on topic, genre and possibly industry tags if you are interested in connecting with publishers. Now use those hashtags within your tweets on a consistent basis.

Try a tool like hashtags.org to research the frequency and popularity of each keyword and its use.

The ultimate connection weapon now is Google+ Hangouts. You just can't beat a Face-to-Face connection and live conversation. I've had some fantastic Google+ Hangouts

Thank you to Rebekah for sharing some of her networking tips! I hope this gives you some ideas for using social media to network and build your author platform. Let me know how you connect and network or if you have any questions in the comments below.

This post is part of my social media for writers series. If you missed any you can find them here. Next week I'll be talking about creating a book tour so make sure you sign up for notifications below or at the top right of the page.

Photo credit: Big Stock Photos

Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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  1. You are the Queen of social networking Peg and a true connector. I’ve never met someone who goes out their way to make someone else’s day the way you do. It’s a gift that keeps on giving! I aspire to be just a little bit of that every day. 
    Thank you for letting me be a part of your article. It’s easy to talk about the subject when I’ve made so many incredible relationships online. You are a true testament to the fact that networking and connecting online can bring amazing results!

  2. I am an introvert, so networking is not something that comes naturally for me. It doesn’t feel authentic for me to pretend to be all bubbly and social when I’d rather be off by myself writing or sipping some tea. Any tips for remaining genuine, yet still making those valuable connections?

  3. evelynwrites You should always be yourself, Evelyn. Everyone doesn’t need to be bubbly.
    There has been a lot written lately on introverts. Have you read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain? Here’s a good article about how to make a wave if you’re in introvert: 12 Most Focused Ways Introverts Can Make a Wave http://12most.com/2012/12/12/ways-.
    I think that introverts can really be amazing on social media, it’s less pressure than an in-person connection and you can do what you feel comfortable with. Just do what feels right to you and most authentic and you’re true voice will speak volumes.

  4. Rebekah Radice That’s so kind of you, Rebekah! I wanted to add some tips from you on this because YOU are an amazing online connector and networking. It’s really an essential part of social media marketing success. You need to build a strong foundation for everything else that you are doing online.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the article and in the comments. 🙂

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