Networking was never one of my strongest skills. I am sometimes shy when it comes to meeting new people, and as a 23 year old who is just two years out of college, I don’t have much of an address book or LinkedIn network (but I have a ton of Facebook friends). The first stage of building my company, One Day, One Job, didn’t require much networking, for I was trying to get college aged job and internship hunters to visit my site. Building personal relationships can certainly help build traffic to a website, but it’s not the most efficient method. Recently, I have started to focus on the second stage of growing my business — encouraging entry-level employers to work with us as advertisers and consulting clients. For a while I sat around waiting for people to find me. I figured that companies would see the potential in One Day, One Job as a recruitment tool and would throw themselves at us. A few companies approached us out of the blue, but I knew that improving my networking skills could speed along the process. I recently joined Twitter, and I realized how valuable the micro-blogging/social networking service can be in terms of business development. Within the span of 2 weeks, I was able to get meetings with 3 CEOs and one VP of Recruiting (who also happens to be the owner of this blog) through relationships initiated and built on Twitter.
Here’s how I did it:
This is self explanatory. Social networks do you almost no good if you don’t participate. You can use them as informational resources, but participation increases their value by an factor of ten.
I Sought Out Interesting People
You need to test the waters before diving into Twitter (or any social network). By finding interesting people to “follow,” you can learn the ropes and proper etiquette while instantly reaping the best informational benefits that Twitter has to offer. How do you find interesting people? You wander around Twitter. I have no idea how I came across each of the 4 people mentioned in the title of this article, but I can ensure you that it was through other Twitter users. If you’re new to Twitter, you can start by following me @willyf and Jason @jjbuss.
Pay attention to what other people are saying. By learning about them through their tweets, you can determine who are the people that you want to build personal relationships with. After listening for a while, you can chime in and join the conversation by tweeting @ someone to ask or answer a question or make a comment.
I Talked About Myself
Nobody is going to follow you if you’re boring. Everybody has something interesting to say, so talk about what you’re passionate about. You might be surprised at what people find interesting, so be yourself — don’t try too hard. It’s much easier to initiate meaningful conversations when you have lots of followers.
As you follow more people and gain more followers you can start getting involved in more conversations. If you have something interesting to add to someone else’s conversation, jump in! Just make sure that you’re being genuine and not self-serving. The biggest mistake that people can make when using a service like Twitter is asking someone for something before they have built a relationship. That doesn’t mean that you should go through pleasantries just to ask someone for a favor — you need to be honestly interested in the people whom you follow on Twitter if you want to build meaningful relationships.
I Took the Relationships Offline
Two of my meetings were in person and two were on the phone. Twitter is a great way to introduce yourself and build the foundation for a relationship, but it’s not a great tool for in-depth communication. By taking the relationship offline and having face to face (or voice to voice) contact, you completely change the nature of the relationship. It instantly becomes more meaningful.
Why Does This Matter?
Whether you are an entrepreneur like me, a job searcher, or a business professional, Twitter and other social networking services can provide amazing opportunities to meet new people and build business relationships. Although I haven’t yet done business with any of the people mentioned in the title of this blog post, the conversations that I’ve had with each of these people have been valuable enough to make me consider Twitter an essential tool in my networking repertoire. Without Twitter I never would have met these 4 wonderful people (and many more) who are willing and able to help me as I build my business. I’m sure that the relationships that I have developed and will develop on Twitter will be essential to the success of One Day, One Job.