How To Network In Your Pajamas And Still Look Professional
I don’t like going to networking events. I enjoy them about as much as I like having a root canal. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. And now all three of my blog readers know about it. I just hope none of them are dentists.
The reason I don’t like networking events is because they’re a distraction in the middle of my day. But mostly it’s because I’m an introvert and don’t always feel ready to mix and mingle.
One of the ways I combat this is by making sure I’m prepared to network. I put on my best face (it’s the same face I wear all the time except with blush and lipstick), memorize my elevator speech, and bring plenty of business cards. Then I find that I’m glad I took the time to go.
Otherwise it feels more like one of those dreams where you show up somewhere wearing your pajamas and then spend the whole time trying to figure out how you could possibly forget something so basic and wondering why no one’s saying anything about it. Awkward.
That’s one of the reasons why social networking is easier. You don’t have to leave your office and you can do it your pajamas.
But even if you’re networking while sporting your favorite bunny slippers, the same rules that apply to networking events apply to social networking. You need to be prepared.
So here are some tips to help you make your online networking as productive as your offline networking.
Making The Most Of Your Online Networking
If you joined Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to network, then make the most of your opportunity by making your social media profiles engaging enough to get people to join your network.
Your profile picture, links, bio, images and photos are the things that represent you online. They are a key component of your personal online brand.
Here are a few tips to help make your social media profiles sticky enough to get someone to hang around and join your network. It’s actually very similar to what you would do at a networking event, except that you can do it in your pajamas.
Put On Your Best Face (Profile Picture)
This is very important because it’s one of the ways that we connect. It’s very hard to connect with an icon or logo. So show your face. Choose a picture that’s open and friendly, just the way you’d be in person.
Michelle Villalobos wrote some helpful tips regarding profile pictures. Here’s a link to her article: Top 5 things NOT To Do In A Social Media Profile Picture
Tell Me Something About You (Profile Bio)
If I were to meet you at a networking event, my first point of contact with you would probably be your elevator speech. Based on those first 30-60 seconds, I’ll make a decision about whether I want to network with you.
You have an even shorter window of opportunity when I visit your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. If all that’s there is your username, I’ll most likely leave your page without becoming a part of your network.
So give me a reason to stay. Use the bio to deliver your elevator speech. And do it in a way that lets me know how it could benefit me. For example, in my bio, I let people know that I help small businesses increase sales and referrals through effective email marketing. That’s much stronger than if I said I do email marketing.
Lastly, describe yourself in the terms that most people would use to search for you. Most online bios are crawled by spiders so key words will help increase your visibility.
Give Me A Business Card (Links, Images And Photos)
Business cards are great. Because they give me a snapshot of your company and the ways I can get in touch with you. You can provide similar information in your social networks. Here are some ways to do this:
Twitter: Customize your background with your logo and company info. You can make your own, get a free one online or buy one. Although it’s not linkable, include your website, blog and other social networks so they can find out more about you.
Facebook: For starters, include links to your website and blog. Use html boxes to add an email sign up box and Twitter button. You can even upload a jpg of your business card and add it to your photo album.
LinkedIn: You can include up to 3 links in your profile page. You can also add other applications that allow you to include slide presentations and PDF files.
Let’s carry on a conversation (Posts)
Your content is what helps build your brand and let’s people know what they can expect from you.
One of the greatest turn offs is to visit a site that’s nothing more than promotional plugs, like billboards on a highway. You can post information about your company and your services, but only one tenth as often.
The rest of the time? Interact with others in your network. Post interesting links to what’s going on in your niche. Post quotes and things that make you laugh. Even if it’s just Chuck Norris jokes.
I hope this helps you make your online presence more professional and engaging.
Now I’ve got to run because I’m going to be late for my first Femfessionals networking lunch. This is one networking event I’m really looking forward to!
My apologies to my dentist friends: I’m sorry if I offended you with my root canal analogy. I’ve actually had two, and with the Novacain it’s not so bad.
Sandi Abbott, owner of Xpresso Marketing (www.xpressomarketing.com) an interactive marketing agency offering email marketing solutions for small businesses. You can connect with her via her sites at:Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.