SOCIAL networks have opened up a world of new networking possibilities.

Networking in person is still critical, but social media has added a new dimension to networking online.

With social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can find and engage people on a new level. Whether they are in an office down the street or across the globe, each and every person with Internet access is a potential contact.

Reaching out to people is simple and can lead to extremely fruitful relationships. Here is how to do this:



 Build up your profiles and develop connections

First and foremost, determine which social media outlets you want to utilise and complete each profile fully.

Make sure your information is consistent across profiles and that you keep these profiles accurate and up-to-date.

Also, check that there is nothing on your profiles that could be construed as inappropriate. This is a prevalent mistake due to the nature of social media in that people use it for personal and professional purposes simultaneously.

The major names, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, are each valuable in their own ways, and there are numerous other social networks out there, including industry-specific ones. Select those communities that are best for you and those that your target audience is using.

Social networks provide the ability to locate people efficiently. Search for classmates, former colleagues, old acquaintances, friends and family members.

This way, you can harness the connections you have made throughout your life as you move forward in your use of social media.

These people are likely to have a wide array of diverse experiences, interests, areas of expertise and sets of their own connections. This can be very helpful in the future.



 Utilise the functionality of social networks to research industries and discover people to connect with

Their profiles will provide useful information, so utilise what is available to you to create succinct, personal communications.

These communications should clearly highlight your desire to connect and your willingness to help them rather than your own needs and requests.

Start out slow and do not be too aggressive. Otherwise, you may turn people off before you even have a conversation.



 Actively engage and interact with your connections on a regular basis

Being present on social networks will not do you much good if you never use them.

Share articles, reply to tweets and posts and, in general, demonstrate that you are an active player in your field so that people will recognise your credibility.

There are various forums in which you can participate.

Sharing relevant posts will add value so that people will see you as informative and knowledgeable.

If you are networking from a job search standpoint, this shows potential employers that you are genuinely interested and passionate.



 Be yourself on social media

While you do need to be professional, this does not mean you need to strip yourself of your personality.

Rather, let this personality shine so that you will make connections that will turn into ongoing relationships.

If you balance your personality with your professional goals and are genuine about it, people will be more inclined to connect with you, since you have demonstrated that you are a real person with both personal and professional value.

Social media is a critical part of the digital age, and this trend is only accelerating.

To boost your networking success, harness the power of social media and you will find yourself with a constantly expanding network that will foster personal and professional growth.


Article by Leah H. Carlisle. The National Association of Distinguished Professionals is one of the largest online networking organisations for business professionals. Article source: