In social media, as in life, you get out what you put in.
Especially as you grow your network. Sure, you can follow dozens of people at the click of the button. But there are better ways to invest your time if you want to build stronger connections with your peers on Twitter and LinkedIn.
My focus is b2b content marketing for technology firms. In the past year I’ve started to focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. I write a lot about the subject and share a lot of articles on social media.
But I wasn’t building up the ‘strong ties’ that you need to gain influence in this niche. So I tried a different approach. Instead of just sharing headlines and links, I made a point of tagging the author, using this as an excuse to start a conversation and get connected.
Here is the method that I use in a bit more detail.
1. Finding experts: Use Flipboard (or a similar curation tool) to subscribe to your chosen topic. I have mine set up for artificial intelligence and it feeds me the latest stories every day from Forbes, The New Web, Techcrunch and others. Every morning I spend about 15 minutes sifting through stories to share on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can see the workflow in my earlier post about content and social media.
2. Sharing content: When I post to Twitter, I always include the handle of the author and the publication. I also try and personalize the post by calling out the author for their insights, or a specific point raised in the article. Finding authors, at least for tech, is easy if you just enter their name and the publication they write for.
3. Follow and add to Twitter list: I make sure I’m following the author on Twitter and in most cases, I’ll add them to my list of AI and machine learning journalists and writers.
4. Connecting on LinkedIn: I also look up the author on LinkedIn. Again, this is easy when you combine their name with the publication in question. Then I’ll send a connection request, always with a message referencing the article that I shared, and a sentence or two about why I enjoyed it. Almost all accept.
5. Micro-blog the article: I try and post at least one 300 word micro-blog a day on Passle, referencing my favourite article of the day. When I share the post, I also tag it so that the author gets a notification.
6. Staying engaged: Most mornings I go back to my AI experts Twitter list and make sure that I like, share or reply to posts from my network of AI authors.
How long does it take? I normally set aside 30 minutes every morning to curate, share and connect with people. If you follow the steps above, you can usually connect with about four people a day.
Doesn’t sound much? Do this five times a week, you can get close to 100 new connections a month, more than a thousand in one year.
Again, that might not sound huge if you’re chasing tens of thousands of followers, but these are deeper connections with people who share similar interests and outlooks in your niche. They’re also the very people who are likely to remember you when they need help with a project or want to pass on a professional opportunity.
Final thoughts. You really need to stick to the drill to reap dividends. If you’re one of those people who needs a reminder, block out time in your schedule. First thing in the day is best. Go grab a coffee and get connected!