Every job seeker has heard it ad nauseam: it’s not what you know but who you know. And while that will undoubtedly always have a place in the workplace, it’s time to double down digitally. Making meaningful connections with social media can open networking doors and lead to valuable long term relationships.
The rise of the digital connection
We are more connected as a society today than ever before. Social media platforms have shaped the way we communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. Think about this:
- Almost 3.5 billion people now use social media.
- 68% of U.S. adults claimed to use Facebook in 2018.
- Over 90% of Millennials, over 77% of Generation Xers, and almost 50% of Baby Boomers use social media.
Those numbers are staggering – as is the potential they represent to build new connections.
But simply being connected to a large number of people on Linked In, Twitter, and/or Facebook is no longer enough to make an impact. If you need the help of your digital audience to open doors in your job search, your maintenance of that digital connection matters.
Creating meaningful relationships
It’s easy to diversify your network with the tools available today. It’s so easy in fact that sometimes we may forget the reason we push the connect button. It’s one thing to connect with an old friend (or a new one) so you can catch up on each other’s social lives. But if you’re hoping to cultivate connections that benefit you as you seek new opportunities, it’s crucial to stand out and to offer value
Let’s look at how to do both.
How to stand out
- Say you identify a possible connection on LinkedIn. Craft a personalized message to go with your connection request. Include the reasons you are reaching out.
- Do your research. Mention something you read in her bio or in her recommendations.
- Offer your congratulations on her most recent accomplishment.
- Avoid coming off as desperate.
How to offer value
- Talk about shared experiences, mutual challenges, and similar outlooks in your message. Let your potential new connection know that you’d like to connect so you can both share experiences in your current role.
- Be polite and authentic. Make yourself available to chat at her convenience.
- Offer to send her a personalized and easily accessible piece of content.
This exercise will assist in building your network and open you up to partnerships that last longer than hitting the accept button. Not everyone will respond in kind, and it’s important to be OK with that. But know that you will have left an impression. There will likely come a time when you can do something for them (or vice versa). Give yourself a better chance to be top of mind.
The bottom line
The key to connect with people is to convey a sense of having truly noticed and listened to them. Sure, eye contact and handshakes will always carry great weight in building bridges. But in the digital era, in-person face to face connections are not always available – especially considering the consistent growth in remote work.
Before hitting that connection request, double check your tone and wording. Avoid sending a message that reads as merely self-serving. Humbly offer something of value to potential connections without expectations. They may indeed be able to help you, but it’s essential that your first impression be viewed as natural and authentic.
Share this video with colleagues who are looking to build their digital connections:
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