Does the word ‘networking’ make you tense up and turn your hands a little clammy? When I hear the words ‘networking event’ I picture people dressed to the nines trading business cards like we did with Pokemon cards in elementary school.
“Oh, you’re a graphic designer? I’m also a graphic designer, but I have a Masters Degree in Art History too, can you beat that?” “Ahh, a graphic designer with a Master’s in Art History, eh? I’ll trade you my social media marketing certifications and together we can tag-team the sorry son-of-a-bitch over there who just has a big smile and ambition!” -END SCENE-
Despite how cringe-worthy some networking events can be, networking is a key driver to your success.
So how do we network without signing up for clammy hand events? Simple: You use social media.
My go-to social media platform for networking is Instagram. Partially because this is where my ideal client hangs out. And partially because I love being able to connect with people visually and in real time on this platform.
Before I dive into effectively networking with people on Instagram, let me share a few strategies to avoid.
For example, the amount of comments that I receive similar to the below screenshot is insane.
I have never seen this account before. They don’t follow me, nor have they had any interaction with me prior to talking about their product.
Nine times out of ten when Instagram accounts engage with your content in this way, it’s a bot or an automated, ineffective strategy.
If you’re currently paying for a service to leave comments on people’s posts – please cancel your subscription right now.
Like don’t even finish reading this blog post – just go cancel that subscription and then come back.
On the same note, if you’re personally commenting on people’s accounts with such inauthenticity that people think you’re a bot, you’re better off not commenting at all.
It’s a waste of time and energy and it won’t bring you results.
Don’t pretend to get to know a new follower only to push the conversation toward your product or service.
I’ve gotten dozens of DMs after following new accounts that seem like they genuinely want to get to know you.
But then after one or two exchanges back and forth, they steer the conversation into how they have amazing products and services that would be “just perfect for you!”
This irritates me for two reasons.
Reason number one: When people connect with others in this manner, authentic conversations don’t have the chance to happen because we’re waiting for the pitch.
For example, sometimes I ignore incoming DMs just because I don’t want to deal with another inauthentic sales pitch. Maybe that person was actually going to have an authentic conversation with me, but due to my experience with others, I’m deterred from responding.
Reason number two: I just stumbled across your content when I follow you. You can not possibly expect someone to be ready to INVEST in someone they just discovered.
That’s not how the customer journey works. If you pitch to your potential customer too soon, as in like, two minutes after they first know you exist, you’re going to lose them.
By pitching to someone immediately after they follow you, you’re attempting to skip three critical steps in the customer journey. Someone needs to know, like, and trust you before they’re ever going to become a paying client.
We’ve talked about how to ineffectively connect with people on Instagram, so let’s turn the tables and talk about how to effectively network on Instagram.
When you finally find an account you love, whether it’s someone in your industry or someone who looks to be an ideal customer; start showing up for them.
What I mean by this is to start liking their posts and leaving engaging comments that show you’ve actually read their post. If you have something meaningful to contribute to the conversation, add it.
Vote on their Instagram Story polls and respond to their stories. This allows you authentically land in their DMs a few times before you actually start a conversation.
This enables the other person to see that you’ve been engaging with their content for some time. They can see that you appreciate what they have to offer, and want to continue the conversation with them.
Oftentimes, these steps will lead to the other person initiating a conversation. (I mean, what’s a more effective way to get connected with your dream client than having THEM reach out to YOU?!)
And no, this is still not the time to pitch!
If you just started talking to someone, you wouldn’t bust out into a sales pitch, would you? That would be pretty awkward unless the other person specifically asked if you could help them with a specific problem.
The same rules apply when you’re talking to someone in the DM’s.
Social media and technology allow you to talk to MORE people, more easily. For some reason, a lot of people also think that social media allows them to ignore the human interaction part of interacting.
When you forget this crucial part of the conversation, there’s no conversation to be had.
Don’t waste your time fostering inauthentic conversations; It’s better to have no conversation at all.
Think of your social interactions like you would a romantic relationship. You’re not going to like their post, send them an emoji reply, and expect a marriage proposal the next day.
You would have to invest time into showing the other person you care about them and what they have to say. You start small and over time your conversations can grow and go deeper.
Eventually, after continuous effort, you’ll have a true relationship with the person on the other side of your screen. By this time they will either like, know, and trust you enough to buy from you as a client OR recommend you to their own clients if they’re a peer in your industry.
You have to be in it for the long haul when it comes to networking, just like every other part of your business.
Instant results will never happen.
Powerful results will always happen after dedicated, meaningful action.
Next Steps: Pop on over to my Instagram page and tell me what you’ve learned. Send me a DM and let’s have a conversation!