Relationships are the bread and butter of the public relations and social media industry.
Whether you are building relationships with editors and producers or stakeholders and influencers for your brand online, relationships are what make our industry go around. We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” and in many parts of our industry this phrase holds true. Whether you are just getting started in the industry or you are a seasoned professional, networking is an important part of what we do. So, just how do you build your contacts? Here is a look at three opportunities that integrate social media into the ‘real word’ that you can customize to your own networking goals.
Running low on time to network? Or maybe you’re just looking for something you can do without actually going anywhere (i.e., you want to lounge in your PJs). Join a Twitter chat when you have half an hour or an hour to spare. Whether you are looking for something during your lunch hour or on Sunday evenings when you are catching up with your favorite TV shows, there is probably a Twitter chat happening.
Twitter chats are a great way to interact with others with similar interests as you, and these are individuals you may not have connected with otherwise. Generally, Twitter engagements with users are short and staggered, and Twitter chats allow you to take your engagements to the next level by creating a structured chat room feel. If you haven’t participated in a Twitter chat before, a great tool to help organize and simplify the conversation is TweetChat.com.
During the chat, one or two users are deemed the moderators and ask a series of questions timed throughout the duration of the chat. The questions act as conversation starters, and the users are able to discuss each before moving on to the next question.
Networking doesn’t have to stop after you leave the chat either. Now that you have connected with new people, you can continue the conversation outside of the chat. It’s important to remember that quality relationships are built over time with continued conversation — a continued effort. So find those whom you click with or find interesting, and keep them on your radar. For the sake of organization, if you are participating in multiple Twitter chats, a tip is to create Twitter lists to organize users based on what chat you met them through. This way, you can monitor your lists (public or private) and their tweets won’t get buried in your newsfeed.
MIRL (Meet in real life):
After spending time building relationships through modern technology, the next step is to “MIRL” (meet in real life). So often our relationships with others occur via the online space today, and a great way to strengthen your relationships is by meeting face-to-face. Of course you don’t need to meet everyone you have talked to through social media, but if you find yourself talking to specific people often, this can be a great option if you live in the same area. You can suggest grabbing coffee on a weekend or grabbing a drink after work to connect your digital profiles to a face-to-face meeting. This can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself offline, talk about the industry, catch up on the latest trends or even just get to know each other away from a computer screen.
Another thing to consider is meeting up with your social media contacts while you are traveling for business, or even just for fun. The great thing about social media is that you can talk to someone across the country as easily as someone in the next room. Often, we don’t have the opportunity to actually connect with them face-to-face because of where we live. So if you happen to be traveling elsewhere, this is something to consider. You can even coordinate to meet up with several people, thus introducing your followers to other people in their own area.
The next step of face-to-face meetings is networking events. There are a variety of different networking groups that you can find online in your area. One resource that pulls different groups into one place is meetup.com. Each group has different meeting times and structure, but it is a great way to meet others with similar interests in a larger group setting, and it will take off some of the pressure if you are generally a shy person. Meet-ups can be a great opportunity to connect with multiple people you have connected with online in one place. There are also several that have special guests, panels or speakers as well, so if nothing else, you will be immersed in industry topics and will probably learn a thing or two.
In closing, here are some final thoughts. Whether your goals are to build stronger relationships in the media industry or grow a community to bounce different ideas off of, networking as a tool shouldn’t be overlooked. So get out there, be confident, genuine and respectful and meet some new people. If nothing else, you might meet some great new friends!
*As a side note: please do be safe if you are planning to meet someone you don’t know.
Originally published Dec 6, 2012 12:00:18 AM, updated July 28 2017