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How to Improve Your Social Networking Skills

Parul Solanki
Social networking skills help in connecting with people online and maintaining strong relationships. Whether you want to connect with people socially or to expand your business contacts, these social networking tips are sure to help.
''Social media takes time and careful, strategic thought. It doesn't happen by accident.''
―Brian E. Boyd Sr.,Social Media for the Executive
You joined a bunch of popular social networks, added hundreds of friends - many of them just random people you probably don't even know - and then click the 'like' and 'share' button for every other post and tweet. Does that make you a good social networker? Do you think you have got a hang of the social media malarkey?
Networking does not only mean that you add a bunch of friends and solicit links or votes. It is about building strong online communities and maintaining relationships for a purpose. It is the purpose that is important. Instead of just socializing, networking is done for a certain purpose.
For example, to expand the number of one's business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals.
Developing a strong social network takes time and effort, not to forget certain key skills. Whether you are an online marketer, a business person looking to boost your network, a job seeker, a teacher, or a student, social networking skills help you get the right response and popularity in an online community of Internet users.
From traditional social networking sites to ones that cater to groups who have shared interests, hometowns, employers, schools, and other commonalities, here are some tips about becoming not only media savvy, but media savvier.

10 Tips to Improve Your Social Networking Skills

Determining Your Purpose

The first question to ask yourself is why you want to join a social network
Do you think it will help you in building a better business, or do you want to promote an idea or product in the online community? Of course, we all know that social networks are a great way to connect with a number of people, without having to shell out a lot of money.
However, finding the main purpose is important for planning your social networking properly. There has been a huge increase in the number of social media networks over the years.

Without any defined strategy and purpose, you would be wasting most of your time targeting the overwhelming number of social networks.
Moreover, a proper plan is also necessary if you need to find the right audience for the message that you want to pass on through the social program. There is no point of wasting time trying to interest 'everybody'. Instead, find a relevant group or a network with people who are passionate and enthusiastic about what you have to offer.

Focus on Certain Social Media Networks

The number and variety of social networks available has skyrocketed in recent years.
Unlike the past, where traditional networks dominated the social network scene, today, there are a number of specialized networks that are meant for people with the same passions, goals, or aims.  These sites cater to a particular niche, and to improve your skills, you can pick the ones that will give you better results.
Of course, you cannot ignore the biggies, like Facebook and Twitter, but when you know your target audience, find the networks that target them the best.

Know the Ins and Outs of Social Networks

It is also a good idea to know the ins and outs of the social network you are targeting.
For example, many employers use LinkedIn as their primary professional networking site, often using People Search to view the profiles of professionals. What they do not know is that they can use LinkedIn Skills to search for skill or expertise on the Skills & Expertise page to find professionals with that skill.
Stay up-to-date on the latest features of the chosen social networks to interact properly while networking online.

Offer Value and Attention

The attention span on social networks is very low. People want value, and they want it quick. Value can be in any form. For example, on blogs, value can be through content or digital products like e-books.
Giveaways, freebies, trials, and subscriptions are some ways in which you can offer value to the people that you connect with on social networks. These props help in grabbing and retaining their attention. It is a great idea to have an interaction strategy in place.
So, if comments, re-tweets, and/or replies does not get a certain desired level of feedback, you can always try modifying it for a better strategy. Increased social interaction is important, it's extremely important to retain attention on the social network. If you get people to notice you and then shun them, it can create an extremely negative impression.
Instead, devote some time out to respond, and even share other people's content. This creates goodwill and improves your online popularity.

Scheduling Messages

It is important to be consistent in sending out the message. People connect more when there is reliability and familiarity. Consistent messages, when passed on clearly and repeatedly, helps people connect more.
One way in which you can consistently stay in touch with your network, is by scheduling your messages. Whether you are off on a long vacation, or going for a business meeting, scheduling your tweets and posts helps people stay in the know about recent events or content.

Using Dashboards, Comments, and Links

Use a social media dashboard to manage your account, and send a number of emails or tweets several times an hour. So, instead of having to go to each social network site to post your messages or to see what people in your network are saying, do it all in one place.
It helps you save time, keeps track of your comments, and allows you to stay in sync with your online network with ease.

In a social network, comments are valuable. It means someone has thought and paid attention enough to leave a note. Comment on posts to ensure that people/users notice your presence on the network, and you appreciate their efforts.
Links draw people to the website. You can also leave a number of links on posts, updates, and tweets, to draw them into the conversation. On Facebook, you can tag or use hyperlinks to get the best results.

Utilize Mobile Apps

With the number of people owning a smartphone increasing by the day, mobile apps have proliferated in recent years.
Download dedicated mobile apps of popular social networks on your smartphone, and stay connected with the network all the time, even when you are on the go.

Build a Visual Personality

When someone has a great personality, and seems genuine and interesting, it is easier to connect with that person. Whether you meet someone in person or connect with them online, it is important to let your personality shine through. Be polite, even when you disagree with someone.
Badmouthing people, even if they are competitors, achieves nothing. Phrase your arguments in a polite manner.

If you want more people to connect with you on a personal level, ensure that you provide information in the sections about your bio, and use the right profile pictures and backgrounds instead of pasting random pictures of Hollywood actors.

Meet Your Online Connections

Nothing beats face-to-face communication. Unfortunately, it is not possible to meet all the people in your social network.
If it is possible to reach out to your online networking connections and meet them, you should definitely try doing so. If not, then try connecting via Skype or other Voice over IP services.

Questions and Opinions

One way in which you can hone your social networking skills is by asking for opinions, and asking questions. Bring out your message and put it across various social networks. Post questions for your readers, and encourage them to reply and give feedback about their message in their comments.
These simple tips can help you improve your networking skills, use social media to your best advantage, and build the ultimate social network. It is also important to keep in mind that a solid social network is not built in one day. It takes time and lots of effort, but in the end it does pay off.