As business leaders and their staff become increasingly active on social media for professional networking or personal connections, providing value to those in your network is as important a key to success as making the initial contact.
Social media provides us with opportunities to connect with future business partners, visionaries in their industry, and prospective customers, but building a supportive and beneficial network takes time and effort.
In a recent post on entrepreneur.com, Lewis Howes, co-author of LinkedWorking and the creator of the LinkedInfluence training program, lays out three ways business leaders can provide value to their personal and professional networks. In time, those personal and professional connections will recognize you as a resource and connector.
The Key to Success: Give
By focusing on giving and offering guidance to those around them, business leaders are establishing a strong foundation of trust and expertise upon which meaningful relationships are built.
“There is no better reward than connecting two people together who can add value to each other’s lives and businesses,” says Howes, but he also warns against the expectation of an immediate return.
Acting as a connector and giving the gift of time have their own rewards. Giving advice and helping others may not always lead to financial benefit in the short-term, but the key to success with your activities in social media is building reputation and credibility.
Offer to Teach
Howes goes on to say experienced business leaders should seek out opportunities to coach and mentor not only those inside their organizations, but those outside as well. Taking the time to serve as a mentor to those new to your industry — especially recent college graduates or junior level staffers — reflects positively on you and shows others you are serious about investing in the professional development and success of others.
If teaching interests you, make it known using your existing social media connections.
“Alert potential mentees about your interest in teaching an area of expertise,” says Howes.
Build an Empire of Contribution
When building your network online, it is important to remember that social connections and relationships must be developed and nurtured.
The goal in virtually all social media participation is establishing and solidifying ties between colleagues, industry peers, and, of course, customers and prospects.
To accomplish this, Howes encourages business leaders to be available and be of service, helping others find their own success.
“Support your own success by creating a way for the people around you to be successful as well. You never know how the individuals you helped will contribute to your life — personally or professionally.”
Taking the time to help members of your community — on and offline — connect, gain valuable experience, and learn from you have long-tail benefits to you and your bottom line, so treat them as long-term investments.
How do you provide value to your personal and professional networks? What’s been the key to your success?