Tweet Your Way To Networking Stardom
It had not crossed my mind to factor tweeting into business networking events until I read an article on LinkedIn, by Pam Ross, entitled “How I Stopped Sucking at Networking.” The title caught my attention immediately since networking is a huge part of how I, as well as members of my sales team, go about building relationships with potential new clients.
If you tweet, your digital fluency is probably high. However high or low your digital fluency may be, your in-person networking skills can still be abominable.
Pam starts her piece by sharing her terror of networking. Like so many, she says, “I am the person whose hands sweat at the thought of being in a room full of people I don’t know, unless I get to be on stage, where I don the persona of a much more confident person. I am someone who can’t stand small talk.” She also shared how shocked she was when having coffee with a friend who complimented her on her amazing networking skills. That’s what set Pam to thinking about how she had become so proficient. She realized it was the result of social networking, primarily Twitter.
Here’s a brief outline of how Pam did it. Of course, you can go to LinkedIn to read the entire article.
Pam’s three-step approach includes:
1. Join chats about things I am interested in.
It makes perfect sense to look for topics of interest to you and make connections with like-minded people. And as Pam says, “It’s a great way to break the ice when you chat with them in real life.” She also offers a link for learning how to participate in a twitter chat if you’ve never experienced one.
2. Search for people locally.
What common sense! Once you’ve started a Twitter conversation with like-minded people, find out if any of the people you are communicating with are in your area. Pam includes instructions on how to do this in her article. She follows up by saying, “Once you’ve found people you want to meet, comment on their tweets, introduce yourself, start a conversation. Once you’ve connected online, invite them to a phone discussion or a coffee meeting offline.”
3. Follow event hashtags and coordinate a meet up.
Pam advises, “Most events these days have a hashtag associated with them. Follow the hashtag ahead of time and when you arrive at the event. Then, connect with others using the hashtag. Arrange a meeting at break time at a certain location.” She effuses, “I can’t tell you how much this has made a difference for me. When I know that there will be a few friendly faces from Twitter at an event, I feel much less alone and awkward. It’s a great way to meet technology friends in real life.”
Once you’ve mastered the technology of social media and are standing face-to-face at a business network event, once you’ve made comments on your online conversations, you can now move into the real meat of networking. She suggests posing questions that will give people pause and make them think a little. For instance, consider asking this question, “What’s the best thing that happened to you today?” Or try this one that Pam suggests, “What do you love about where you work?” or “What are you hoping to learn about here tonight?” As Pam elaborates in her article, “These sorts of questions open up a much more interesting discussion than talking about the weather or even local news, sometimes. For me, they help to feed my natural curiosity, too!”
It’s fun bringing social networking into the arena of business networking. I have to thank Pam for her article. She sounds like someone I would like to tweet and meet.