Personal Branding 2016: Taking Your Online Relationships Offline

When you focus on social media engagement, you are trying to increase the interactions that you are sharing with your followers. Yes, more likes (and shares) usually means more exposure. Yet, for most business professionals the purpose of their online presence strategy is to market themselves to a select target audience.  This is an upgrade from a general audience simply “liking” what you are posting. Social media engagement allows you to build relationships through sharing content with select industry peers, clients, and/or constituents. From this point you can start to build meaningful, long-lasting professional relationships with those online connections.  

When using social media we need to answer this question: “How can I use this to build relationships AND get measurable results in my professional life?" Below are tips on how to use social media engagement to network and build relationships to accomplish your professional goals.

1.    Who to connect with? It’s important to know how to choose whom to connect with online. When searching for quality contacts to network with online, start with sites such as LinkedIn and look for high-level networkers (HLN). Entrepreneurship.com defines an HLN as an individual that is active online, who has completed their profile, and has at least 500 connections. Some examples of HLNs would be executives, the media, decision makers, and the top professionals in your industry.

2.    How to Connect- After you’ve made a list of HLNs that you want to target, listen to them by tracking their social content. Start to follow, like, respond, and/or share this content. You can implement this strategy on Twitter by retweeting, making their tweets favorite, or mentioning them in a tweet of your own. Twitter can be a very useful social media platform because you can follow anyone you find interesting and start a conversation with public figures, business executives, industry experts, and other interesting people – who will often respond.  

3.    Taking it Offline- Going beyond 140 characters will give you the most return on the time you have invested into building your online business connections.  Just because you don’t know an individual personally doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out to them via social media and connect. The entire point of using social media sites liked LinkedIn is to leverage your existing connections to grow your network with new connections.  Most people understand this, and therefore shouldn't have an issue as long as you are transparent by sharing why you want to connect.  Whether you are sharing information, introducing them to a resource, or offering your assistance, the subject matter of your initial message should highlight how you can help them (not asking for help).

There are several methods for connecting offline (Skype, Google+ Hangout, and phone). Here is an example of how to request a call: “Hello _____, your (website, articles, portfolio, etc) is impressive and I’m extremely interested in learning more about it/you. In addition I wanted to share some (information, referrals, etc) that I think may be of some benefit to you. Do you have time to jump on a quick (less than 5 minutes) call next week?”   With a humble approach, more than likely their answer will be yes.  If all goes well in during your initial phone call, the next step would be an in-person meeting.  An in-person, face-to-face meeting is the highest value interaction possible.

 The majority of our clients realize the important role that social media serves to enhance online presence. However, many have the misconception that you are improving your social media profile by increasing your likes and/or followers. This is where we run into the issue of quality vs quantity.  The secret behind networking and social media isn’t necessarily the quantity, but the quality and consistency. Connecting with one professional at a time, providing something of value to that individual and gaining their trust. By developing a social media engagement plan you can manage how much time you spend networking and set goals that you can achieve through consistency. 

At Waller & Company a highly dedicated team helps you build a desired personal brand through image consulting, public relations, media placement, portraits, and website design. Our online presence services are specially designed for professionals, politicians, and public figures. Developing and promoting your personal brand is our core objective and what we do best.