by Patty Nicastri, Hager Sharp
Snapchat, LinkedIn, Email, Twitter—the number of tools you can use to network is constantly growing. So how do you navigate social media to connect with someone in a meaningful way? How do you connect with influencers in the age of Networking 3.0?
That was the topic of discussion at the February 18 professional development workshop “Networking 3.0: Building Communications Relationships, Creating Opportunities, and Balancing Privacy.” Matt Bennett, senior vice president and D.C. practice lead at Racepoint Global; Anthony Shop, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Social Driver; and Paige Lavender, senior political editor at Huffington Post shared tips and tools to help develop strategic and mutually beneficial relationships. As panelists pointed out, it is possible to over-network and cross the line. By understanding some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of networking, you can ensure that’s not you.
First the “Do’s”
DO develop a relationship. According to Anthony, “Often, we’re so obsessed with telling our client’s story, we forget the people we want to reach are telling their own stories. The question is not, ‘How can I interrupt your story?’ it’s, ‘How can I become a part of it?’” That means you have to bring something to the table when you reach out to reporters or other influencers. Listening and then responding is the key to building a strong relationship—just pushing out content is not. Relationships must be mutually beneficial.
DO understand who you’re talking to. If you pitch a reporter, you should know what they write about. Racepoint Global uses Field Facts, a proprietary technology that helps identify, analyze, and target journalists, bloggers, and other influencers. Using a tool to keep track of influencer information is a way to be strategic about building these relationships. If a reporter wrote one article on a topic several years ago, it does not mean they currently write about that topic. Also, you should know where to reach the person. Sometimes, Twitter is not the most appropriate place to reach out to someone. Instead, an email or phone call may be more appropriate. Do your research first.
DO utilize social networks. There are so many apps and networks to choose from and, according to panelists, no one is really maximizing the potential of these networks. You can use LinkedIn to see who mutual connections are. Anthony uses LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and will then ask those connections to introduce him via email or phone or in person. Tools like Rapportive can be helpful for identifying these connections. If you’re trying to connect on Twitter, Paige suggests adding to the conversation instead of just following and retweeting. Retweets can be lost if there are a lot of them, but if you add commentary, you’re more likely to be noticed by influencers.
Now the “DON’Ts”
DON’T act “creepy.” Paige suggests thinking of someone’s online presence as a hierarchy. Facebook and Instagram are personal, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and email might be more appropriate for reaching out. Additionally, if you come across information about someone’s family online, it’s best not to bring that up. According to Matt, “If you don’t know the person, family is off limits.” Additionally, if you meet someone and instantly follow and connect with them on every platform, it might be off-putting. A good rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure what the etiquette is on a particular social network, ask someone who is.
DON’T cast a wide, impersonal net. According to Paige, personalization is key. Taking time to personalize a pitch makes her more likely to respond or pass it along. This ties in closely with understanding who it is you are talking to.
DON’T reach out on networks you don’t use. If you only use Twitter to pitch reporters, you’ll probably be ignored. It can come off as impersonal and inauthentic. Also, if you only tweet once every few months, there’s probably a better medium for you to use to connect with an influencer.