Social media. It’s nearly an essential part of business success in today’s world.

And while in-person networking is important, “meeting” like-minded professionals online is a wise move, too – if you go about it correctly, that is.

A Look at LinkedIn

Perhaps the most professionally-minded social network site is LinkedIn. To connect with others in your field, the best way is likely by creating a LinkedIn Outreach Campaign. Simply search industry keywords, develop a list of those who you’d like to develop a relationship with, and make a goal of connecting with a handful each day.

LinkedIn will even give you a suggested spiel for reaching out – but DON’T use it. Instead, create your own personal message. Talk about what you might have in common and be intention about in explaining why you are looking to connect. Don’t make it a one-sided conversation, though. Show how connecting could be mutually beneficial and you’re more likely to get a response. Be a resource and offer help when you can.

Trying Twitter

Don’t be intimidated by Twitter’s feed. Instead, conduct an advanced search on keywords used by the kinds of people you’re looking to reach. Once you find them, pay attention to their conversations and how they engage with others. Sit back and read a bit before trying a direct connection.

Once you’ve followed them, and have determined you value their content and information, take the time to connect and interact with them on a weekly – and even daily – basis. Comment on their posts, re-tweet articles you enjoy, even simply “liking” them is a start.

After you have developed a good number of industry contacts on Twitter, making a Twitter list is helpful. This way, you can sort out contacts by topic and filter the content from the typically hectic scrolling feed.

Don’ts to Avoid

Sometimes we can get a bit too comfortable with our social media contacts. This is especially the case on Facebook. Be careful not to over-share or feel invincible at your keyboard, or you could find yourself in a little – or a lot – of trouble. Some things to avoid include:

  • Political posts. If you plan on conducting professional business on social media, remember to keep it professional when you post. Political posts are often hot-button topics that can alienate people or escalate to heated conversations. It’s best to avoid them on social media platforms.
  • Sloppy writing. Just because you’re posting on social media, grammar and spelling rules don’t take a backseat to content. Take the time to check and double-check what you type before uploading something.
  • Personal photos. Again, don’t overshare. If you’re looking to come across as a professional, this isn’t the place for partying pictures and the like.

Practice good judgement and you should be on your way to social media networking success.