Utilizing Social Media to enhance Face-to-Face Networking

If you are like me, you have met many people through face-to-face in networking meetings and events.  It is a wonderful resource to be able to meet someone, talk about mutual interests, exchange business cards and . . . then what?   

Do you intentionally connect again in person to dive deeper; talking about each others specialties?   

Do you load their contact information in your contact list or maybe send an email or two talking about the things you do in hopes there is some mutual benefit? 

If you have tried this in the past, chances are the relationship quickly ends after your first email or exchange of business cards.

How can you build on that initial meeting and maintain the business relationship?
First off, the initial meeting doesn’t provide enough time to really dive into all of the skills, services and specialties that your connection has to offer.  Even in 10 minutes, it is difficult to breakdown a list of the reasons why each of the service offerings can be of benefit to someone. Taking the time to really get to know this person and ideally the best way to refer business to them would require many meetings, discussions and examples of how they have helped other clients in the past.
One of the best ways to get familiar with the additional information that should be shared is a mutual exchange of relationship building through social media.  Here are some starter ideas of how to get that conversation in the right direction.
(1)    Connect with that person on LinkedIn
     a.       Connecting on LinkedIn shows your contact that you are interested in continued networking past the business card exchange
     b.      Depending on how they have their profiles configured, if they have their contact information loaded right into their LinkedIn profile, you export your connections into Outlook (for example) and it will populate there for you.  
(2)    Send a personal message thanking them for the connection
     a.       Messages in LinkedIn can be searchable in your Inbox, the same way names / titles / industries / specialties are searchable under People, Company and Group sections of the platform. 
     b.      Include questions they can respond to in your message; such as asking them more about their specialties or some other interest such as personal goals or their favorite book.
(3)    Ask if they connect in other social spaces and send them your social links as well.
     a.       If you are a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn Company user, a great way to build followers and pages you are following is by connecting to those you are connected to in your network.  Due to space in most cases, the easiest way for those to be shared mutually is through a personal message.
     b.      Sharing of content in the social profiles provides a great means of communicating your services
Because social media is a great social medium for sharing business experiences, life events, service offerings, relatable story telling and promotions, your new connection will have the opportunity to not only share with you, but will also have the opportunity to learn from your sharing and contribute questions and reciprocal discussions in return.
By taking your business card exchange to a new level utilizing your social media resources, your relationships can continue to grow past the initial meeting and hopefully lead to another face-to-face discussion about other things you are mutually interested in.
It takes commitment, time and care; but then again, any good relationship takes work to maintain.  Give it a try and see if you set the trend in your network with relationship building.

~ Social Media is changing the way people do business.  Don’t get left behind ~ 

Hollie Clere, of The Social Media Advisor is a social media manager, trainer and author in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+ , Pinterest and the tools to manage them. Click here for her Social Media Links

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