Tips on Making Social and Digital Networking Work for You
What services do you offer, how long have you been in business and why did you choose to focus on networking?
Line 25 Consulting specializes in marketing and networking strategies. For the past three years, we have helped clients excel in their niche through social media, content marketing and thought leadership. I decided to focus on networking because I want to help change the perception and show people that networking is a skill and connection is substantial for influence and growth.
What’s your advice for marketers looking to use networking in their overall marketing strategy?
Our relationships are our best resources. So much is fighting for our attention. People we connect with deepest will listen to our sales pitch, read our emails or watch our videos. I encourage you to attend that random event to meet someone new or phone to make sure that your clients’ needs are met. You never know whom you will meet and where that may lead.
What’s the best online social network for building new relationships?
Facebook and Instagram command the most attention. Zucks is fearless and has done a fantastic job of evolving these platforms by incorporating popular features such as Groups, Stories and the best advertising rates. Demonstrate your expertise. Show value in these groups. Don’t just post and run. Let me know you can save me time by solving my problem before you pitch me about managing my project.
Tell us about your books Network, Navigate & Nurture and Connect With Confidence, and your podcast Networking With Michelle.
Network, Navigate & Nurture discusses value-based networking that walks you through online and offline strategies and tactics — for example, how to navigate the professional maze and digital space, and to find a mentor. On Networking With Michelle, I interview thought leaders, influencers, authors and experts on their professional growth and breakaway moments. Success Undefined: Reject Your Fears & Frame Your Success, explores the four fears that prevent you from achieving your goals and leading you into the six qualities that define your success.
How can marketers apply the “rules” of traditional networking to the digital space?
The same rules apply. Initiate a conversation, state your online “elevator” pitch, go for the ask if applicable and follow up. Consider a one-on-one conversation at an event as a direct message when you’re online.
How has digital networking and building relationships contributed to your business growth?
My business thrives on networking. I have to practice what I preach. Network, Navigate & Nurture was based on people continually asking me how to network better and how I know so many people. Networking is a skill that allows me to create and maintain a platform for my business and sustain community involvement.
Do you have a social or digital networking strategy? If so, how did you develop it?
Yes. I’m focusing currently on Instagram. I post four times a day with one video throughout the week. I use 15 niche-based hashtags per post. To increase engagement, I respond to every comment, and I “like” at least one post for each person who “likes” my post. I use InstaSize, Repost and Unfollowers to manage my account.
What tips do you have for moving a conversation from online to offline?
It’s a process. For example, if the engagement is on a personal or group post, reach out with a direct message. Provide an introduction followed by a statement such as “I saw you that were inquiring about creating a marketing strategy.”
What percentage of your business derives from networking?
Sixty percent to 70 percent. It ranges from seven-year friendships referring me clients to simply referring me on a tagged post. Other avenues include speaking and content creation.
How many times a month do you connect offline with someone you met online?
I remain open with my audience. I spend time honoring a request by jumping on Skype, phone calls or meeting at a networking event. If you’re focused on business development, always initiate a 15-minute call. Create a call-tracking sheet to help with follow-up. If they’re busy or even it’s a great call, ask about a good time to follow up. Input the date and time on your tracker and calendar so you’ll be notified.
What common mistakes have you seen people make when networking online?
It’s important to initiate engagement. This could include sending a thank-you message for a friend request or messaging that a mutual friend suggested we connect. Ten times more effort should go into networking online because we miss important personal things such as tone and body language.
How do digital networking rules change from platform to platform?
Each platform has its own audience, but there will be overlap. With each platform, your tone will vary based on the audience. Because LinkedIn is considered the more professional platform, you’ll keep the topics and images business professional. You’re less likely to show pictures of leisure. On Facebook, you can safely provide a mix of leisure and professional posts.