Facebook is a powerful networking tool that can help you build relationships with new professionals and introduce your product or service to entirely new markets and groups of people. That is if you know how to use it. Here are five steps you can take to get started with Facebook and use it to build a professional network.
Understand Facebook’s Informal Tone
Before you dive into Facebook, first understand that it’s a little more of an informal platform than other well-recognized online networking tools designed exclusively for professionals, like LinkedIn. Granted, if you wish for your Facebook posts to be straight-laced and by the book, then you’re perfectly within your right to do so. However, just be aware that Facebook gives you more freedom to let your personality shine, which could work to your advantage (if you’re a likeable human being). Therefore, when interacting on Facebook, be yourself. You never know, authentic interactions could lead to much more than making professional acquaintances–you might end up making a new friend.
Take Advantage of Facebook Groups
The advantage of Facebook’s sheer size and user involvement is that it’s relatively easy to find Groups that are very much attuned to what you’re looking for. Also, if you can’t find a Group that fits your networking needs, it’s a simple enough process to create one.
If you’re new to Facebook Groups, then you must first understand that they’re different than your company’s Facebook page and your personal page. If you find a Group that you want to join, then you must make a request to join it so that the administrator will have a chance to approve you. Also, realize that there are two different types of Groups: public and closed. The content of a public group can be viewed by anyone, while the content of a closed group can only be seen by its members.
To find a Group for your professional networking needs, start by using Facebook’s search bar. Enter something like, “Toronto Small Businesses” and see what results come up. You can even refine your search to find a group that’s specific to your industry, both locally and nationally.
Once You Join a Group, Introduce Yourself
Just like joining any social group, it’s good to first introduce yourself before sharing. In Groups, it’s totally acceptable for your first post to tell everyone who you are, what your business is about, and what you’re looking to get out of the Group. Again, remember our first piece of advice and be your friendly self.
Get to Know the Group and Then Share Away!
It’s good to actively post to the Group, but before you do, take time to scroll down the Group’s timeline and get a feel for what kind of topics people post about, and how often people post. Get a sense of the Group’s culture and then post with this information in mind. The challenge of what you post is that it should be content that’s valuable to the Group, instead of something that’s overly self-promoting.
Create Local Events to Meet Each Other in Real Life
Facebook is great for interacting online, but that shouldn’t be the end goal of your Facebook interactions. To actually connect with your online peers in real life, look for and promote opportunities where this can happen. Facebook makes this easy by allowing users to make and promote Events. To meet with your Facebook network pals in real life, simply create an event, invite each of your online friends to it, and posit the Event URL to the Facebook group in order to draw Group members whom you haven’t yet “friended.”
By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to growing a vibrant professional network using Facebook. Do you have any more tips to share on how you’ve used Facebook to find networking success? Let us know in the comments.