Networking expert: how I really use social media
08 May 2019 -
Vanessa Vallely of WeAreTheCity on how to use social media to boost your network
Guest blogger Vanessa Vallely OBE CCMI
In 2006 I recall thinking that LinkedIn would never take off as an online networking tool; I also thought the same about Twitter. How wrong I was. I use social media all of the time – as founder of careers platform WeAreTheCity, social networking goes with the territory.
That said, I use different channels for different purposes and to manage my online relationships in different ways. This is the strategy that works for me:
I keep my LinkedIn posts professional
I am an avid broadcaster on LinkedIn and post content every day. I use my posts to call for help from my network and to promote our initiatives at WeAreTheCity. I wouldn’t use it to post personal updates – it’s my view that professional platforms should only include work-related information that could interest my followers. I use Facebook for anything else.
I resist adding people I haven’t met
On LinkedIn I would rarely send a cold invitation to connect unless I had a significant amount of contacts in common with the individual.
Instead, I would ask a mutual connection to introduce me using the messaging function. Nothing beats a recommendation from someone the individual already knows – it means the invitation comes with sincerity and credibility.
I use my travel time for my updates
Social media is time-consuming. I tend to check my social media feeds at least ten times a day and share content. If I have lengthier posts to write I will use my travel time to do so.
I amplify the voices of others
The best thing about social media is the ability to amplify the voices of others and share great content. For this reason, I use Twitter and Instagram to follow others and to understand their interests.
I use the direct message function to establish contact in private – I then take the relationship offline.
I remember my personal brand
On social media there is a risk that we can paint a picture or market ourselves in a way that is different to our real-life personalities and characteristics. My advice is to always be genuine and be consistent. Anyone can see your online comments and whatever channels you are using, it’s important to reflect your values and those of your employer.
I cross-check profiles on different social networks
There is a risk that the person you are talking to online isn’t really the person you believe them to be (this is true in both a personal and professional capacity). You should always check out profiles and cross-reference other social media channels to validate the information you see.
I try and switch off
I have recently adopted a three-hour social media-free period from 7pm to 10pm each night. We all know social media can affect your mood by exposing you to good and bad stories you might not have seen otherwise so it’s good to switch off from time to time. While social media is a fantastic way to network, I don’t believe it will ever replace the benefits of a face-to-face meeting.
Vanessa Vallely OBE CCMI is managing director of We Are The City, a careers and networking organisation for women. Find her on social media @Watc_girl or WeAreTheCity @Watc_updates.
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