As a young professional woman, I have been told time and time again to build strong networking skills because it will aid me in my career. Over the years I have worked on developing my confidence so that I can engage with like-minded individuals at events and in new professional environments. I want a successful career, and I realize that meeting someone along my journey might be the link to a new opportunity or even my connection to future employment. When it comes to your “big break” networking is an essential piece of the puzzle, this also applies to entrepreneurs trying to find new clients.
As we ladies are living in an extremely digital age, networking online is becoming a real opportunity (and one that we can benefit from!). Many platforms have the sole purpose of building professional networks, but how can we network through media that was never intended for the same purpose?
This is where networking on Instagram comes in. Let’s discuss how you can connect with like-minded individuals, prospective employers and clients! The best part, you don’t have to leave your comfort zone (or your PJs!) you can grab your phone and become more connected than ever before.
The secret is in knowing how to network and transferring those skills online. We can’t look at networking as this big, scary thing anymore when simply put it is the art of meeting new people and talking to them! Being good at networking comes down to approaching people in the right manner, being excited about the interaction, following up and then doing everything you can to maintain that relationship you just built.
So let’s take it online, here is how to network on Instagram
Know your network + Do your homework
When you are trying to network on Instagram, you need to know who your ideal colleague/client is. Don’t randomly message accounts and comment on everyone’s photos. Be specific, have the “perfect page” in mind and stay true to that blueprint when seeking out new associations.
[For example, your dream connection might be a graphic designer, who works remotely and uses the same design software as you.]
Having a particular person/company in mind will help you build meaningful connections, in the long run, you want to get to know people who could truly aid you in your career. You want to foster relationships with people in similar industries and with skills that could be of service to you.
*Pro-Tip: When you land on a potential Instagram page quickly check these four things :
#1 – Is the account run by an individual or is it a business account?
It is important to determine, so you can address and speak to the page correctly. You could be addressing one person, but potentially talking to a team of individuals that run the page.
#2 – How does the account look?
Consider the visual layout, design, and branding. Does it look professional and clean? Artistic and cool? Just like somebody’s outfit you can tell a lot about a person based on the way they present themselves.
#3 – Is there a link in the Instagram bio?
Most businesses or professionals will have a link to their CV, blog, website or recent collaborations. Follow the link and find out more! They are giving you one more piece of information about themselves. Follow through and see if you like what you find.
#4 – How many followers do they have?
It is crucial to check how many followers an account has to determine if you will be able to connect with them. [Consider this; you stumble upon Oprah’s Instagram page, you love it, think that she would be a great connection to have, her account looks lovely, and you check her followers….10.1 million. When you go to message her directly or try to reach out, your efforts will be lost in the thousands and thousands of messages she receives.]
Remember to bring into account the size of account you are attempting to engage with on Instagram. At first, it is better to approach individuals and companies with a similar following to yours, it makes them more approachable, and your efforts of actually contacting them will be more successful. However, that being said some accounts with large followings do reply so try your luck!
Slide into all of the DM’s
When you find that account that fits your blueprint, now you have an opportunity to connect! See those three little dots at the top right corner of their page, to the right of their username? Click those. You will see a menu pop-up, and near the bottom, there is a “Send Message” option.
This feature is your ticket into their inbox on Instagram. Here you can send them a direct message introducing yourself and explaining what you do and can ask them questions about themselves/their business. Strike up a meaningful and engaging conversation. Be yourself and give them every reason to respond!
Become the comment queen
Sometimes our direct messages can get lost in the void, and we fail to get that response we want. No stress! Commenting on photos is a great way to get the attention of your ideal colleague/client. When you comment on someone’s photo, it appears in their notifications with your username attached, so, similar to a DM your name and your message to them will pop up on their phone.
It helps to be consistent with your comments. Don’t go overboard, but commenting on their posts and having them see your username multiple times will get them familiar with your name (username) and make them more likely to engage with you. Do make sure your comments are authentic and genuine.
Follow your heart
What I mean is follow your “blueprint” accounts! Following whoever it is that you are trying to connect with is crucial. It shows that you are genuinely interested in them and the content they put out. It is like a friend request on Facebook or invitation to connect on LinkedIn – necessary. Plus it will give you daily inspiration.
Shoutouts + Mentions
So you have followed the account, commented on their photo, sent them a direct message…now what? Your job as an Instagram networker is far from over.
People often tend to forget that networking is an investment. You can’t do it for a week and stop there. Carrying the connections, you make forward is very important. Building the relationships is how you make people feel valued and more inclined to lean on you for advice or assistance.
Take this to Instagram by giving people shoutouts and mentioning them in comments or even your IG stories! If you make stories, you can tag people in them! Or if you stumble upon a great post, tag someone who it is relevant to. These small acts show them that they are still on your mind, or that you want to keep the connection going strong.
Remember to be professional and appropriate. Lead new found Insta friends to great content, other people or fantastic accounts.