Sixty two percent of Americans admit: social networking is our calling card. However, the Internet has replaced corporate handshakes with 300-character introductions. This gives a whole new meaning to the idea of “suiting up”. Instead of polishing our shoes and resumes, digital networks break free from tradition. It’s more about what you say and how you say it that determines prospective business as well as meaningful connections.

Sending a Direct Message

Was your direct message a direct hit? You finally got up the courage to reach out to an influencer. You’ve admired their content from afar. They work in the same industry as you. Plus, you have a mutual connection in common. Yet, they have been able to parlay their career into speaking engagements and book deals. Because of their success, you would love to pick their brain about following in those same footsteps.

You hit the send button. Here goes nothing: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” With that, your first touch point is complete.

But if you landed in Aja Frost’s inbox, a business and tech writer for The Muse, the only response you’re likely to hear are crickets. “It baffles me that everyone isn’t customizing their invitations,” she says. “Those 300 characters can have a big impact… if you’re connecting with someone you don’t know at all, it’s your only opportunity to convince him or her to accept.”

This is LinkedIn’s default message, akin to a mass-produced cover letter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t indicate your motivation for connecting, nor your background, or any other commonalities. On average, CEOs have 930 first-degree LinkedIn connections. Additionally, as many as 46 million students and recent college graduates rely on the platform. This 50,000-foot view only reinforces one thing: you’ll need a thoughtful display of engagement to stand out.

Networking Tips: Two Quick Downloads

Short on time? Fill your messaging apps with conversational excellence. Check out Frost’s word-for-word scripts and direct message anyone – whether they’re a former colleague or distant acquaintance. Click here.

Next, sign-up for Hello’s “Write Right” Workshop. It teaches participants how to write, be engaging, and be understood in today’s world of work – particularly within the confines of email and social networking sites. Click here    

Online Networking Strategies That Work… For Work 

You might be behind a computer screen but make no mistake: digital conversations are personal. Your interactions should also be polite, pertinent, professional, and praiseful. Here’s the other half of the equation:

Be Authentic

Can you imagine a company that looks at your Twitter account before your CV? It happens more often than you think. In order to be authentic and make a good first impression, put your strengths and curiosity on display.

Post with a positive attitude and be clear as to why you want to connect with someone. To share resources? To share an impactful update? Keep your message short and convincing for maximum effect. Remember, the receiver is not a mind reader… and their time is just as precious as yours. Make the seconds count!

Be Consistent

Digital networking offers more than private messaging. As a business or brand, you have the opportunity to share your opinion and promote original content. By getting featured and honing your voice, you can welcome feedback and comments. When you do, be sure to respond promptly, answer and acknowledge questions, and address complaints with an open mind.

Remember, social networking is a global phenomenon and many points of view are inevitable. By being visible, you greatly increase your chances of ramping up your net worth. Get ready for the connection requests. After all, sometimes business opportunities happen because of who you know!

Be of Value

Don’t ask for anything, at least not right away. Unlike offline conversations, digital dialog has a third-party lurking around the corner: spam bots. You don’t want to plaster your contacts or future prospects with the same, mass produced message. Think about it: if you were receiving up to 20 unsolicited robocalls, per day, you wouldn’t be too enthused by the effort. Turned off is more like it.

The goal is to build value – be a connector, share a helpful study, and always be giving. This slow drip lays the groundwork for memory recall. “Hey, you know who you should speak to…” “Oh, I know a contact of mine who is really helpful in this arena…”

You’ll start to see reciprocity bubble up as a result of your previous actions. And by now, this cumulative momentum makes it easy (and fun!) to make a request. So, go ahead and ask for that recommendation or strike that business deal. Chances are, the receiver will have plenty of good things to say!

Want to feel empowered, supported, and optimistic about growing your network? The career coaches at Hello would love to share our dynamic classroom experience with you. Get in touch – we’re connectors at heart, writers by trade, and helpers all the way.

Cheers to new connections!

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