What should I say? How do I approach people? What am I doing?
These were the questions floating around in my mind when I started using social media. It was almost as if I’d forgotten how to use words altogether! In the social landscape, your ability to generate stimulating conversation is the key to building genuine relationships with people. That being said, with no facial expression, the tone of voice or familiar setting, it is perfectly normal to feel a little bit out of place.
But, in reality, we really shouldn’t feel so much anxiety. Talking over social media is pretty similar to starting any conversation in real life. There are some basic skills that are transferable and will definitely make you feel at ease. Here are the top 5 skills that I transfer from my everyday conversations to social media:
Simple and often a forgotten aspect of any conversation online. If you go to an event and start networking around the room, you tell people a little bit about yourself. Your name, what you do and a few personal interests. This is exactly the same online.
This will vary on each social network, but a great place to start is your profile. For Twitter, in particular, I always say never stay as an egg. Complete your profile with a picture, biography and link to your personal website. By giving people an insight into who you are, you give them a reason to get to know you. Remember, first impressions do count both on and offline.
It’s always quite tempting to just dive in head first. You see a really interesting thread and immediately want to join in the conversation. But, if you truly want to connect with the people you’re speaking with, you need to know them. The best way to do this is to spend a great deal of time listening.
Once you have a greater understanding of your communities wants, needs and even aspirations, you’re better equipped to join in the conversation and provide them with well really informed answers.
Speak When You Can Add Value
There is a lot of noise on social media. With the sheer amount of people, it’s very difficult to genuinely be heard. The best way to get people to listen is to provide them with valuable content and information that helps them to grow. Not only will this help to build your credibility within your industry & community, it also shows that your sharing is of quality, not quantity.
There is a time and place for speaking and listening. After all, we all have so much to learn. But, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to help others. Grasp as many of them as possible.
Show a Genuine Interest in Other People
This ties in with listening: the best way to get to know people is to ask questions. No one enjoys interacting with that person who prefers the sound of their own voice. There needs to be a balance and a constant back & forth momentum. By showing an interest in others, you’re creating space for the relationship to be based on something more substantial.
Finding it difficult to come up with some conversation starters? Here are some of my favorite questions to ask:
- How’s your day/week/weekend been?
- Is there anything new happening?
- What did you think about that awesome article/video?
- What’s your opinion on (industry topic or recent event)?
There are plenty more, but try to ensure that you’re giving people as much space to offer their opinion as possible. I try to think of it as passing around the microphone instead of hogging the limelight! By the end of the conversation, ask yourself: what have I learned about them?
Having Manners & Leaving a Good Impression
Please. Thank you. See you soon. All very simple phrases that are often forgotten during conversations on social media. Just because a chat has come to an end doesn’t mean that you can’t say thank you! If people have made the time to help you & provide you with some valuable insights, make sure that you show them some appreciation.
This can also be pretty fun! Posting GIFs can be a great way to express yourself (especially on platforms that have limited characters, like Twitter). I love using these when I’m saying goodbye or just for some laughs – here are a few of my personal favorites:
So, next time you want to connect with someone on social media, just remember that it’s really not that different from what you already do every day! Have the confidence to join in the conversations and know that you should start by simply being yourself.
What are the first things you do when networking on social media? If you have any additional advice, please share your tips in the comments section below.