It’s All In the Network

16 11 2010

By: Jessica Malnik

To go about finding a mentor, it’s all about networking. Up until 5 years ago, networking could only really take place face-to-face. Today, we have a great equalizing tool. It’s called social media.

Think about it. Social media allows us to chat and network with people all around the globe. All we need is a laptop. LinkedIn and Facebook are good ways to network online. But for this post, I’m going to stick with Twitter, which is arguably the most effective way to start networking with experienced pros. 

Unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter is a predominantly open network. You don’t need a friend request or a Linkedin connection request to start following the vast majority of people. The only exception being people who protect their tweets. I’ve compiled several tips for how college students and younger professionals can get the most out of Twitter when it comes to networking.

Start following influential thought leaders in your industry

Use tools like Twellow and Twitter Search to search for professionals in your industry. Start following them. Create Twitter lists to sort and organize your followers.

Actively Participate in Twitter Chats

A great way to follow and get-to-know industry leaders is to participate in Twitter chats. You name it, there’s a chat for it. If you are in the marketing, public relations or journalism fields, there’s tons of chats. For starters, I’d recommend #journchat, #pr20chat, #prstudchat, and #cmgrchat.

But, there’s also an ample amount of chats for other industries and hobbies. For a full list of Twitter chats, check out this Google Document.

Be A Part of The Conversation

Once you begin following some new folks, start listening to what they are tweeting about. Then, get to it and start engaging. If they tweet about an article, tweet @ them with a follow up question or an insightful comment.

Pay attention to see if their account is strictly professional or if they also add personal tweets. Do you share the same hobby as one of your “new followers?” Tweet them about it. It’s all about starting a conversation and building a RELATIONSHIP with that person. Become a real person in their eyes, and not just an avatar.

Once you have that rapport, try and take that online connection off Twitter. Start with a phone call or a Skype video chat. If permitting, treat them to a cup of coffee for a “pick your brain” session.

Networking is the stepping stone for finding a great mentor. Follow these three steps and really get to know some thought leaders and you won’t even need that formal awkward mentor introduction. It will just happen naturally, like a friendship.

About Jessica:  Jessica Malnik is an Interactive Marketing Coordinator by day. Generation Y blogger, videographer, social media enthusiast and web designer by night.  For her social media, technology, and workplace ramblings, please visit her blog.

Interested in guest blogging? Email Kirk your pitch!

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5 responses

16 11 2010
Mark L. Clark

Hopefully, Social networking sites will never take the place of the real face:face networking, but it is a great way to supplement the efforts. Thanks for the good insight!

Follow me on Twitter @marcusclarkus

16 11 2010
Jessica

I definitely agree with you, Mark. Social media is a great icebreaker, and allows you to chat with people from around the world. But, it’s definitely not a replacement for true face-to-face networking.

21 12 2010
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[…] Reach out to your mentors. Learn from their experience and wisdom. It’s all about the network. […]

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[…] Network with friends. […]

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