Facebook is a social media mega-giant with more subscribers than any other platform. For that reason alone, it stands to reason that it’s a great place to network, but there are plenty of other reasons why learning how to use Facebook professionally will quickly and efficiently boost your network, and subsequently, your career.
Networking is about creating value and building relationships, and the platform lends itself to both very well. In this article, we’re going to take a look at why you should learn how to network on Facebook, and how to go about it. We’ve also compiled seven creative tips to maximize the return on your networking efforts. So, let’s go!
Why and How to Network on Facebook
Before we get into the specifics of how to network on Facebook, it’s useful to summarize the basics of networking to provide a wider context. If you’re starting out, whether, in a college or a new business venture, it’s not always obvious how, or even why, to actively network.
However, this is an industry staple process that every prospective entrepreneur needs to learn, and one that’s fundamental to the way professionals operate, so here’s some useful context that will hopefully explain what networking is, and why Facebook is a good way of doing it.
It’s never too early to start networking. Finding people in your industry to learn from and work with early on can be an incredible investment in your career. Networks are not simply groups of people feeding off one another, they’re mutually-beneficial relationships based on trust and facilitation that open opportunities for all involved.
The principles are simple: reach out, offer support, learn, and contribute to a vast community of interconnected individuals and find ways to create value for them. In return, you’ll cultivate a reputation and a positive association with yourself and your brand, and you’ll be closer to the top of the list for consideration when someone has an opportunity for you.
It’s essentially about creating professionally functional friendships and associations, through being considerate, productive, and supportive of others while making yourself present and noticeable. Social media has skyrocketed self-marketing opportunities to a new level with the unprecedented connectivity of people from all over the world and the ability to instantly communicate with them, and along with that, has focused strongly on interconnectivity.
Why Network on Facebook
Facebook in particular provides a market of around 2 Billion users worldwide and therefore should be a primary focus of anyone looking to network online. There are some key basic principles to networking that Facebook does a great job of facilitating, and that’s what today’s article is going to be about, but first let’s take a peek at some of the major benefits Facebook has to your networking.
Facebook has enormous amounts of traffic. It is the largest social media platform out there, and is accessible globally, on any smart device. It’s also a recognized brand that’s commonly used by demographics of every age and creed, so it is familiar to most people and easy to navigate.
Facebook can create impressions. It can change opinions (for better or worse), so is a really useful tool for dispelling myths and altering preconceptions that may otherwise hold you back in your professional life. For example, if your industry is one in which people aren’t entirely trusted, understood, or respected by the public, Facebook might provide you with a platform to show your true nature and reclaim the narrative among a budding community.
Integration is another huge part of the appeal of Facebook for networking. Following, sharing, and linking are all effortless on the platform and make networking organically a lot more straightforward.
There are plenty of other ways that social media and Facebook specifically can boost your network tremendously. Before we get onto our top Facebook networking tips, let’s cover some of the basics of how to network.
How to Network on Facebook
To get started on your networking, you’re going to want to develop some kind of strategy. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, and the tips that follow will give you specifics on how to implement these best practices, but in general, you should aim to:
Develop an online presence – Many people look at networking as something that needs to have a distinct task-to-reward principle. However, the returns on your networking efforts are much more organic and unquantifiable than this. It’s a social investment in your professional future, and it starts with making yourself present.
Online is a great place to start, and Facebook allows you to begin with no other resource expenditure than time. Sign up for free, and get involved by liking, commenting, and sharing industry media that fits your career path. Your engagement will start making your name familiar, and this is the first step to networking.
Take part in conversations – If you have something valuable to contribute with your expertise in certain areas, make sure you put it out there. Respond to questions, offer contributions, or if you need to learn, ask! Professionals are usually happy to help out in the name of their networking efforts, so join in online discussions and use them as an opportunity to teach and learn.
Control conversations – When you’re ready, start conversations yourself. Begin posts with a question, or an opinion that you want to discuss, and make a call to action that will generate engagement. This will further familiarize your community with your presence and help to expand your network.
Establish trust – ultimately this is about presenting yourself as a valuable member of the community and someone who can be trusted to help and provide genuine and useful resources to your network. This may be in advice, connections, or simply friendly and informative discussions.
Lead people to you – use your presence to bring people towards you. If you have a website or a LinkedIn resume, a funding page, or a professional landing site, make it available to people who click on your profile so people can see more about what you’re doing.
Arrange real-life meetings – networking online can be done from the comfort of your own home, of on a train ride to work. It comes with huge perks to convenience, but it lacks a certain personal touch that face-to-face meetings provide. Lunch meetings, after-work drinks or quick coffee breaks all go a long way to creating memorable experiences with your network, so use Facebook networking for its wide reach, but make sure to supplement it with physical presence where possible.
Arrange events, book appointments, and plan physical meetings on Facebook too.
These are the basic principles of networking online, but there are some specifics that are worth mentioning and ways in which you can take standard methods of networking and improve them with just a touch of creativity. Here are our top 7 Facebook networking tips.
Facebook Networking Tips
When starting out, you’re going to want to understand the Facebook algorithm. This is the mysterious mechanic behind how Facebook prioritizes posts to display to your contacts and has been the focus of study for marketing departments, social media influencers and networkers alike.
The finer details are still shrouded in secrecy, but Facebook does provide information on why certain posts show up, and from these, it’s been established that Facebook promotes content based on uniqueness, timing, engagement, and various other factors.
Engagement is the most important part of this to focus on for these tips and having people view and interact with your posts is the key to the first of our tips:
Gather your seed network – This could be a small group of friends or colleagues who will be a part of your networking process. The benefits of a seed network are in the exponential rate of making connections. Starting with five individuals on the same networking approach can build a contact base a lot faster than starting alone, which is a great way to get a head-start on your networking. But the seed network has other implications too.
Use the Hub - The idea behind the Facebook hub is that your seed network will each interact with one another’s posts to help you boost engagement in the early moments of posting. As mentioned the result of this is the stimulating of the algorithm to bump a post up in priority, based on a high engagement rating. This is a good tip for any stage of networking when it comes to posting content, but can be particularly useful before you have a multitude of followers and you want to quickly increase your network.
Join niche conversations – We touched on this in the earlier section, but there are some handy ways to maximize this approach. The best way to start including yourself is to make use of Facebook groups. There are literally thousands of groups that probably relate to you in one way or another, so begin by hunting for the most relevant and jump in. You don’t have to know anything at this stage; quite the contrary – you can boost your visibility simply by asking for information from those who are qualified to give it.
Discuss issues, opinions, and ideas that you may have, and become a regular, humble contributor to the community. Most importantly, join niche groups! Don’t simply focus on the groups with the highest participation – niche followings can be very powerful.
Start conversations – Over time you might find that a niche opens up for you to create your own group. This can be a place for you to control the conversations and submit your own valuable contributions as conversation starters. Always be working towards this, as it’s the best way to cement yourself as an authority in the industry.
However, starting your own group isn’t enough on its own. Be sure to stay on top of spam and moderate your group well. This will be a front for all of the high-quality content that’s relevant and draws like-minded people in, so keep a tidy house!
Form real relationships – This is a tip that many people overlook in networking across the board. The best networks, though in need of conscious maintenance, are reasonably natural and easy to manage. That’s because they aren’t simply a sum of the transactions between individuals as a means to an end. They’re genuine, authentic relationships that inspire social connections and simply need to be nudged along on occasion to keep them fresh.
Have a Digital Business Card – From your posts and connections, you’re going to start getting more people in your network over time. You’ll want to have a page or some specific media that can be referred to, be it your professional LinkedIn page, your website, or anything similar that your referrals can find you and contact you via.
Digital business cards are a creative solution that will allow your network to grow much more effectively when your Facebook posts can lead contacts to your identity and intentions. With a virtual card, you can link to all of your professional credentials as well as display some of your personality immediately, and since it’s a relatively unique approach, it’s more memorable too.
Create Value – Never forget to give back. A network is only as much use to you as you are to it, and sadly, too many people take a selfish approach to forming connections. Learn from your network, but never forget to teach at the same time. Make sure your content is valuable, and not simply clickbait, or you’ll miss out on the high-value contacts you’ll need to rely on in the future.
In addition to this, don’t focus solely on high-value contacts. Not all returns are direct or immediate and people from different industries can often have surprise opportunities or connections further down the line. Moreover, if you’re known as someone who contributes indiscriminately, you’ll be more trusted and valued as a connection to others.
With these tips, your network should grow almost organically, and at an exponential rate. Keeping track of this network might seem straightforward at first, but as it grows it’s a good idea to take on an organized approach. Dex can consolidate all of your Facebook contacts with the rest of your network, keeping everyone in the same place and streamlining the process of maintaining connections.
Further, you can see where your previous conversations left off, set alerts to remind you to touch base, and keep important dates and relevant information present to make the nurturing of your numerous new relationships a simple task.
How to use Facebook Professionally
Learning how to use Facebook professionally is mostly about learning how to make the best use of the different types of content and connections available to you. Here are some basics to publishing content on Facebook that need to be understood to really maximize your reach when it comes to networking:
Text posts – These are simple status updates or conversation-starters. They’re not prioritized by the algorithm, so have limited utility in drawing large amounts of attention, but can be useful as points of information to people visiting your page.
Image posts – This is one of the most versatile forms of a Facebook post, as it can send a vast amount of detail to a viewer in just a few milliseconds. A smile, a landscape, or a product can all tell a story in a single, eye-catching image. These are evocative forms of expression when used correctly and can draw people in to absorb more specific information about you.
Video posts – Though a step up from an image post, a video also requires a higher level of commitment from your audience than a photo, but it can benefit from the added dimensions of narration, other audio or text overlays, and tasteful editing. This can contain a lot more information and tell a story from start to finish, if necessary. It could also be a great way to showcase your personality.
Livestream – For educational purposes, Facebook Live could provide an engaging way to spread your message. If you have a presentation that you think is relevant to your network, consider using this.
Links – Connect your competitors and collaborators by sharing their media to your network. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it establishes you as a good-faith actor in your industry.
Finding the right approach will depend on your specific strategy, but it’s simple enough to mix and match the various elements of Facebook to create and cultivate your online presence and bring your new network to you.
Networking is about forming mutually-beneficial, meaningful relationships with professionals. Social media presents an unprecedented opportunity to connect on an enormous scale with people around the world, and leveraging this is the key to your success in your career.
Facebook offers excellent integration for networking, as well as multiple avenues of content creation and exploration, and knowing how to use it well will skyrocket the opportunities that naturally arise from a robust and diverse professional network.