Biz Ladies: Networking to Grow Your Brand, Part One

Biz Ladies, Mariah Danielsen
Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Mariah Danielsen, a veteran contributor, designer, marketer and shop owner. Today Mariah shares with us her go-to tips for networking your brand online in part one of a two-part series. Thanks Mariah for sharing your insights with us today.  –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

Biz Ladies, Mariah Danielsen

When it comes to growing your blog and brand, making connections and forming friendships is a must, but sitting around waiting for people to reach out to you won’t help expand. You’ve got to be the connector; reach out for those friendships, partnerships and opportunities that you want. Connecting and networking will help your business grow tenfold.

Networking can be done many ways, but they always fit into one of two categories: networking online and networking offline. In the first part of this networking series, we’ll focus on different ways to network online to grow your brand.

Networking Online

Networking became much easier when the internet and social media came to be because instead of having to meet someone face to face to network with them, now you can shoot them an email or send a tweet their way. It’s easier, less formal and much less scary than picking up the phone or meeting them in person. Using social media is a wonderful way to start building relationships.

Let’s dive into some different ways you can network on the variety of platforms you have at your fingertips.

Networking on Twitter

Mentioning, Retweeting to Break the Ice

Twitter is a great way to break the ice with someone. A simple retweet or @ reply gets your name on their radar and starts a conversation; the relationship can grow from there. Get the good vibes going, and if someone mentions you or retweets one of your tweets, reply to them or thank them.

Setting Up Twitter Lists

A useful way to network with Twitter is to set up Twitter lists. This is a way to keep up with all the people you dream of networking or collaborating with, and you’ll be able to stay up to date on the things they’re talking about.

Start by breaking down your lists into certain categories – one list for blogs you’d like to guest post on, one for people you want to collaborate with on a project, etc. This will help you keep on top of what people you want to work with are talking about.

Twitter Chats

A helpful way to network with people in a certain industry on Twitter is through Twitter chats. A Twitter chat is like an online meet up – it’s an interactive way for people to talk about a certain topic at a specific time by using a particular hashtag. They’re a fun way to find people who share your same interests on Twitter and can be a great way to meet new people to collaborate with. Twitter chats like #altchat, #blogbrunch and #omhg all take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

You can find more Twitter chats by doing an online search, many websites have lists of them. Also, keep an eye out for what Twitter chats the people you follow are doing, it’s a simple way to jump into a conversation that they’re having with others in the industry.

When it comes to networking online, Twitter makes it very easy to connect with people you want to work with, and all it takes is one little Tweet! 

Networking with Facebook

Facebook is a little bit different because it’s much more personal than Twitter. You’re not going to be friends on Facebook with everyone you follow or everyone who follows you on Twitter. But if you’re using your business page, use it as a tool for reaching out to your favorite brands and connecting with your followers.

Sharing is Caring

You can start by sharing someone’s project, site or post. If you love a project someone is working on or a post they recent wrote, share it on your Facebook page – they’ll appreciate your share and if you tag them in the post, it’ll show up on their page too.

Contests & Parties

Contests will help you gain new likes and more interactions on your business page. Hold a simple contest or giveaway where all  someone has to do is like your page and comment on a post. You’ll see what content your fans like best, and you gain some new followers in the process.

Facebook parties are fun too, especially for product launches and special events. Specify and promote a certain time to get together with your Facebook fans, host giveaways and hang out with them for a while.

Facebook lets you connect with your followers and is a way to share with them the things you love from the brands you follow.

All the Other Sites

There are tons of other social media sites out there that let you connect with people you want to collaborate with. Following those you want to network with on sites like Pinterest or Instagram will help you get to know them a little bit better and can serve as an icebreaker on Twitter or when you’re emailing them later.

Get in Their Inbox

Email is the king of networking online because it directly connects you to your dream collaborator and serves as a way to pitch them that big idea you have in mind. Even though it can be terrifying to reach out to someone about a project, sending a quick email can snowball into something big and exciting. The trick to email is to keep it  short and sweet, make it personal and make sure it doesn’t sound like a mass email – those get skipped over more often than not.

When you’re ready to reach out to someone about a project via email, get right to the point. Quickly tell them something specific you like about their blog, site, project, etc. Then, in a sentence or two, tell them who you are and how you’d like to collaborate. Be specific and have as many details ironed out as possible. The less work they have to do, the better. Finally, tell them how they can get ahold of you and when you will follow up with them.

Then, do the follow up!  If you haven’t seen a reply in a week or so, send the follow up email. Most people have an overflowing inbox, especially bigger bloggers or companies that get many collaboration requests each day. It’s possible that they missed your email or read it briefly with the intent to get back to you.

Email is a great way to network, but an email address is sacred – make sure you’re respectful of their time and inbox.

Those are some basic ideas for networking in the online world, where just a few seconds and 140 characters can change your life and business for the better! In part two of this series, we’ll focus on ways to network with people in the real life, offline world.

What are your favorite ways to network online? What big projects have come from just a simple tweet or email you sent? Share in the comments! 

maggie

I love this post! I feel like I am on the very beginning stages of social media networking..I follow a lot of blogs religiously and comment on them, but feel like I need to establish my brand a little bit more before reaching out to people. I am also putting a lot of focus into my etsy and hoping to expand that as well…think I have to make myself separate accounts for it so I can really get the ball rolling. Thanks for the excellent advice, as always.

shira // sur ton mur

Great advice! I’ve found that it helps me to have specific times set aside each day for networking online – just a few 10-15 minutes slots a day can really help to connect with people while keeping it from being overwhelming.

My main challenge is that being in Quebec, my business is bilingual – I have to network in both English and French, and devote equal time to each because the communities only overlap a little bit. It can be overwhelming, and I’ve found that strategies that work well with one language group don’t necessarily work with the other. I’d love advice on how to run a business that has multiple client groups to address (multiple languages or cultures), if anyone has any thoughts. :)

Lisa Kellenberger

I’m thinking more seriously about PR and work as a social media manager at a travel company. Thank you for this post, all of this resonates with me, and is inspiring me to get more involved and to go for it!!

Annie Kruse | Stylejuicer

Loved all your advice. I feel you need a certain amount of followers to be taken seriously though and in the beginning you need to be prepared to do a lot of reaching out. Can’t wait to read the offline networking advice. #BizLadies rocks!

Jess

Great post!
I’m quite shy, so find it really difficult to strike up conversations with peers – Twitter has made that a lot easier, but I don’t feel I’m utilising it as much as I could/should do. So this advice came at a really good time for me – thanks!

Olivia Oyster

Great post – thanks for the tips. I’m finding that Instagram and Pinterest are increasingly important when it comes to online networking but it’s a bit hard to do it all! And do it all well too! Looking forward to part 2.

Alicia

Great post!!
Being a beginner in networking it really helps to remind you how important is to make conections. I started by focusing on my vendors around town but this 2014 I really want to explore the online world!! There is so many alike souls here :) it is very exciting!!
Who knows?? Maybe those few bloggers I follow someday will want to collaborate!!!
So if you are a newbie in this go for it!! And good luck!

Humayun Hashmi

Yea socializing your product is very much important, your post is very helpful for newbie like me, i will now focus on networking for my local products and will also explore more, i am using instagram to promote my products. Do i need to use pinterest too? or instagram is enough? by the way i am in fashion industry in dubai.

Pia

Great tips! I’m a beginner too but its even harder to reach out simce I’m in Mexico and my blog is in spanish! Blogging community here is just starting . My blog is not for business but for personal therapy and for the joy of sharing . I love doing it but sometimes I’m overwhelmed by realizing all the side work involved to make it popular!!
I think I need a social media manager!!!! The good thing is I’m not shy. The bad thing is I’m not good with twitter, etc…i’ll take your advice and I’ll start with emails!!

Rachael

This is such great advice! Thank you for saying that an email inbox is sacred – it’s important to be respectful about what you reserve for email as opposed to other media communication. I know it’s not as intimate as sending a letter, but it is so much more personal than tweets and likes (but those are important too)!

Judy

Article is just fab for myself, as a newbie….I have “Twitter”, “Facebook”, “Pinterest”, “Houzz”, but probably need to spend more time with “Twitter”. I don’t think I’m using it to its fullest with regards to networking. Looking forward to Part 2….

Mariella

Thanks a lot for the advice! It gets overwhelming sometimes especially when I want to do everything at the same time and obviously can’t. I guess I also have to be more patient to myself and enjoy the process :) Congratulations on following your passion and loving what you do. It’s really inspiring!

A. Sparkle

This post came right on time for me! I’ve been wanting to find a way to expand and connect to more people especially through Twitter and blogging, so this is perfect. :) Sometimes it’s frustrating not knowing what to do and how to really utilize social media for business. Thanks so much for the time and energy you put into this. I know it will help me as I’m sure it will many others! Looking forward to part 2!

GrayLivin

Great tips! I have an account for just about every social media platform known to man. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all of them. The key is choosing 2-3 platforms that work for you and focus your attention on them. I’ve neglected my Twitter account in the past, but I feel the need to become more active on it.

Anne Marie Jackson

Hi Mariah
Thank you so much for your insight into twitter. I really love Instagram as i am more visual but i also need to leverage the power of twitter now. Quick question, how do you manage to keep up with all the social media area Facebook, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest etc and still have time create? I seemed to get all into one thing and the others are neglected. Essentially it is my design work i need to be spending 90% of my time on. Is this unrealistic? Thanks again for sharing.
Anne Marie

Alicia Salazar

Really great encouragement. I am doing a ton of marketing right now for my shop relaunch on Saturday on Etsy. I have been rebranding and designing my blog, and reaching out to people on Pinterest, Twitter, blogs and Facebook. I had to step out of my comfort zone and ask for some free publicity from friends, small blogs that caught my attention and blogs with huge followings. I actually am working with 1/2 of them on my virtual launch party! It is scary and I feel vulnerable but the worst they can do is say no, or ignore you.

Melinda

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Understanding the correct way to use the different social media’s has me constantly confused. And confusion is frustrating! This advice is timely for me and sincerely appreciated. Can’t wait for part 2 :)

Lynne

Do you think its important to select the social media that corresponds to your potential clients the best? LinkedIn seems to be a better audience for my needs (marketing my writing skills to “foreign” language speakers) than Twitter, or am I old fashioned?

Karen Murray

I really need to put some of this into proper action. I do bits and pieces, but then either don’t keep it up, or just get too nervous about contacting people, but that’s the only way for a business (in my case, illustration and graphic design) to grow. I keep feeling that I’ll be bothering people, or I’ll be dismissed, like I do to spam email :D

Dina

Thank you for the advice! It’s really difficult when you start your business to reach to bloggers / shop owners / etc… It’s frustrating because you rarely get replies, but I think the key is not to give up and keep on trying.
Thanks for the tips!

Dina

It’s really difficult when you start your business to reach to bloggers / shop owners / etc… It’s frustrating because you rarely get replies, but I think the key is not to give up and keep on trying.
Thanks for the tips!!!

Mariah Danielsen

So happy that you’re loving this advice! If you’re struggling with not getting replies or you’re nervous about sending that email – just remember that everyone who is someone started where you are right now. It takes courage and patience to make it. Your idea or project may resonate with the person you pitch it to, it may be something they’ve been dying to partner with someone on, but you’ll never know if you don’t reach out to them!

@Anna Marie – I reserve a chunk of time each day to work on this. I’ve always got my phone in hand, so when I have a down moment I’ll scroll through Twitter and see what conversations I can drum up, even if it’s complimenting someone’s post quick or retweeting a tweet. It’s important to prioritize your work – but reaching out on Twitter has landed me huge collaborations that I never thought possible!

@Lynne – I do think it’s important to focus on being active on the platforms your customers are, but I think there is some importance in connecting with other people in your same line of work or in complimentary lines of work. Hang out where others in your industry are hanging out too and you may find a collaboration comes from it!

Good luck everyone!

Kathy|| Designer Pinboards

Interesting running a small business. You are constantly juggling all aspects including generating good quality content. This post was a timely reminder why. So ultimately you can connect with people and have a chance to tell your story and of course hear theirs! Thank you for the timely reminder and clearly outlining the different applications for social media.

Mia

Thank you for a great post. I wonder if one should focus a lille more on Instagram then it is menetioned in the post? Where I live (Sweden) people are dropping off Facebook and it seems like Instagram is their/our new favourite place to meet online. There are probably local differences all over the world … I never got into Twitter – I prefer the visual part of Instagram. On the other hand maybe Twitter is the place where we can find new customers;)

MsTeaTowel

I only post about my own products (as opposed to sharing others’ posts) once a week on Facebook and found it was worth experimenting with the best day and time to post to get the most likes/shares.

@SHIRA, regarding having two “audiences” – why not have two twitter accounts? You could have one in French and one in English and tailor the message/tone of each. I have 2 twitter accounts (one personal, one for business) and although it’s a hassle to switch between them on the computer it’s very easy on the phone, and may be on a tablet too.

I also think it’s worth having each of your social media presences be slightly different – I hate it when I follow somebody on say Twitter and Instagram and their posts are the identical on each, or their Twitter posts are just links to their Facebook page, it makes following them twice seem like duplication. I try to have the message slightly differently presented in each, and my Instagram account has “behind the scenes” pictures (er, sometimes) that can only be seen on Instagram and not on Facebook or Twitter. Rightly or wrongly I think it makes me “better follow value”. I certainly appreciate it in people I follow.

AMANDA

You make it sound so easy!! I think organisation is the key. And regularity. Many thanks. Amanda

Stephanie

I knoowwww everyone + their mom recommends Twitter, and I knooooww that it’s so necessary nowadays to drive traffic to a blog (even more important than FB, I hear!)–but I’m just so reluctant to open one! It’s a scary world, the Twitter universe! I’ve heard crazy things happen there!!

Stephanie

Christina // Franny & Franky Designs

This is such a timely post for me. I really struggle with keeping up a rhythm when it comes to networking. I tend to binge and then get frustrated when it yields no results, instead of working at it little by little, day by day. One of my big goals for the year is to really build awareness of my graphic design business and Etsy shop, and one of the items on my list is to start utilizing social media more consistently and effectively, as well as reaching out to contacts, bloggers, etc. and not being shy! So thank you for this!

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