The internet is the world’s most massive and most decentralized social hub. Anybody can attempt to talk to anybody else online, and they may even get heard. Random people from around the world have successfully solicited responses from rock stars, presidents, and other A-list celebrities through social platforms such as Twitter.
You can think of the internet as an unprecedented networking opportunity. There are reliable tactics you can use to develop more influence and grow your digital network over time, which eventually leads to meeting those “hard-to-reach” people.
Even if you don’t live in a major city like NYC or London, you can network with the A-listers. Think of Facebook and Instagram as being the fifth avenue of your digital world. You won’t have to leave your house or spend city-level living expenses to meet amazing people.
How to Build Your Digital Value
The more value you are perceived to have online, the more likely you are to get introductions to influential people. Most high achievers are actively looking to expand their networks. Become the kind of person that influencers want to meet, and you will get the chance to do so.
Contrary to popular belief, growing your online value is doable and doesn’t rely on long-term luck. You can build up a social media presence that earns you a few thousand legitimate followers across two or three platforms in about a year.
You don’t need to be a mega-celebrity. All you need is a few thousand followers as a way to prove your legitimacy. Then you need some valuable skills or ideas that influencers want to hear, which mostly comes down to understanding your niche and creating content for it.
Content Marketing for Digital Networking
You already have some interests that you spend time learning about and with which you engage. The next step is to make some of those interests public and “work out loud” as you pursue your passion projects.
For example, imagine that you are an electrician with a passion for architecture. By day, you might travel around your town fixing people’s electrical issues in their homes. By night, you could spend an hour or two each day researching and posting about exciting stories from the history of architecture.
After a year or two of this, along with some learning to get better at sharing stories and reaching an audience, you can net a few thousand followers for sure. You could do it on Instagram, or on Twitter, or on Facebook. It would only take a few posts per week.
Most people vastly overestimate the struggle of gaining followers online. All it requires is a focused niche, a modest-yet-steady work ethic for the task, and about a year of patience.
Flexing Your Influence
Once you have even 500 followers, you start to have a little influence. You can make a post and ask people to retweet it, and perhaps a few fans actually will. When you post something “controversial” for your field, fans will push back at you. You start to feel like a small version of a social media personality.
Now you can “flex” your influence to expand your network. Make a point of tagging the authors and thinkers from whom you are learning. If you read a good book, post about it and explicitly tag the author and the publisher.
Over the months, as you tag YouTubers, authors, speakers, artists, and whoever else, your network grows. These people see your posts, and they look at your followers, and they might respond. You have more value than you used to, so your ideas are more likely to get some traction. It’s good to recognize and tap into this phenomenon as soon as it becomes possible because it’s productive as well as fun.
A Lifetime of Networking
The task of growing your network never ends. You’ll get older and develop new challenges, interests, and opportunities. Old friends will drift out of your life, and new mentors or colleagues will enter.
View digital networking as a small, healthy part of your life. It’s one part personal fun, one part career development, and one part education. You can spend five to 10 hours per week creating content and engaging with other influencers online for an entire lifetime.