Depending on the day of the week, you may get varying opinions on whether social media is in fact, real. Often referred to as a highlight reel, it can seem that there is a lack of the full picture when it comes to the totality of what life truly encompasses. Which we all know is both the up, down, and in between. But no matter where you stand on that particular thought, the reality is that social media has the ability to lead to some very real life opportunities.
Melissa Kimble, GG Renee, Tyece Wilkins, Charli Penn, just a few of the people that I have had real life interactions with that started online. And with the important role in my development that people like Melissa, GG, and Tyece have played in my life and business, I’d say that social media is indeed, real. At least to a certain extent. Ha!
Many people have thoughts on how to use social media professionally. I have heard people say things like you should never DM and I think that is completely untrue. I wanted to share some of the very real ways that I have been able to network through utilizing social media. The point is indeed to be social, right? Not to just watch other people’s highlights.
I’m not afraid of the DM.
Listen, the morning that I woke up and received a DM from an editor at Essence about doing some freelance work, I was ecstatic. But it also showed me that there is no shame in hopping in the DM. Listen, I am all about shooting your shot. But there is an art to it. First of all, I make sure that it is a person that I have engaged with some other way. Whether an interaction on their picture, a quick convo through Twitter, or whatever the case. Don’t just come out of the woodworks. I also keep my DM BRIEF. The point is just to get their attention and then find out if you can provide more details through a more direct line of communication, either an email or phone call. I will say something like, “Hey, would love to interview you for X,Y,Z, if you’re interested, I would love to email you more details.”
I found useful Twitter chats.
Listen, Twitter chats have been amazing to me. First of all, there are so many people with common interests all coming to one place and you really meet some interesting and engaging creatives. Jump into the conversation, share your expertise, interact with others’ thoughts and opinions. By the end of it, you will have learned some new things, followed some new people and also probably gained a few followers of your own. A few to start would definitely be the #blkcreatives chat, #creativesmartgirl, and #createlounge. Be sure to check them out!
CLICK TO TWEET /// Jump into the conversation, share your expertise, interact with others' thoughts and opinions
I curated my timeline.
Guard your heart and your timeline is one of my favorite sayings. Part of the reason that Twitter is so useful to me is that I have not just followed every Jane, Mary, or Joseph. I really picked the people that I follow based on caring what they actually have to say! Don’t just follow folks because they follow you. You want to make sure that when you scroll down your timeline, you are coming across great events, finding things that you can be a part of, and for writers, finding pitching opportunities. I have literally started collecting editors from around the web into a list. This way I can easily scan opportunities.
I actually ask questions and answer questions and talk to people.
I love when you post something and ask folks a question and they just like the post instead of commenting. Lol. It’s like, clearly I want you to interact with me. So I am a person that will interact. If there is a hot topic popping off on #sheabutter or #blacktwitter, I hop in if I am passionate and knowledgeable about it. Please don’t just go spewing things you haven’t even fact-checked just to be part of the convo. But you know, I am social. And sometimes that leads to actual lasting connections with folks whether I become a fan of their work or them of mine. Speak up and interact, especially when folks are showing you that’s what they’re looking for.
I share other people’s stuff.
We get it, all of us have our brands and things that we are pushing. But do you know how appreciative you feel when someone shares your product, blog post, or course? Well, why not do the same for someone else? If you like it, share it. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools that we have. And you don’t do it for anything in return, but sometimes that is the catalyst to building relationships with others in your field or beyond.
We have an advantage that no other generation had before us. We are living in this land of connectivity and it couldn’t be greater for all the things that we are trying to achieve and accomplish. I can’t imagine how I would build my audience and platform without social media. I mean sure, I would figure it out, but honestly, this is a tool that we have at our fingertips that is FREE. At least for now. Why wouldn’t we be taking advantage of it?
CLICK TO TWEET /// We have an advantage that no other generation had before us... Why wouldn't we be taking advantage of it?
Social media has made me real money, given me real opportunities and translated into real people showing up at my writing workshops. So when you tell me that social media is not real, I tend to want to say, but … I get it! It surely isn’t the depiction of real life all the time and we often compare ourselves and all that good stuff, myself included. But I don’t want you to underestimate the real impact that social media can make on your career and business.
I get how awkward networking can be in person. LOL. We’ve all stood oddly at the bar waiting for a conversation to end so we could jump in or hoping the person that we want to talk to actually comes over to us. But on social, it’s so much easier. There’s a screen between us for Pete’s sakes! Just remember, don’t be a weirdo, try to find natural ways to interact with people and be an active participant in the community that you want to engage. Those things will lead you to building great online relationships that hopefully become tangible connections in the long run.
Any other tips you would share about networking online? Have you found yourself making real life connections through social?