It is the age of individual PR! Never before has there been an opportunity for professionals to reach out to others across cities, professions and age brackets using, literally, the power of the Internet. While social networks are quite the rage globally, they are not immune to the cultural differences which permeate the physical world we live in. The massive population of APAC (60 percent of the world) combined with the demographic dividend of a young and digitally savvy generation, means that the likes of Mark Zuckerberg place these countries high on their priority list.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind while you’re leveraging the massive power of social media to network and to showcase your strengths and accomplishments.

social_mediaBe visible. It is amazing how so many of us are "silent" visitors on Facebook, LinkedIn etc. The world needs to know about your hidden talent. Whether it is a meaningful post, a blog or an interesting update, your footprint needs to be visible. Otherwise, why be on social media in the first place?

Use an outside in approach, rather than an inside out. The fundamental premise of successful networking is giving, not getting. In this regard, an outside in approach to reaching out, such as offering someone advice or help is the right way to create a good impression upfront. A case in point is when I saw a query on TripAdvisor and leveraged my recent experience with the hotel to convey exactly what the enquirer was looking for.

Remain consistent. This one is extremely critical. A human being needs to come across as a consistent person in all his interactions – be it informal networks or formal networks. The moment people receive mixed images, doubts about authenticity start to creep in. A recent example I noticed was a person who gave a strong lecture on tobacco cessation in the office during the day and then posted flicks of a party with unlimited smoking in the evening. This person lost the chance to lead the team on driving change in corporate health at the workplace.

Stay balanced. This is one of the most under-rated, but important, aspects of social media networking. The trick is to post just enough to stay visible, but not so much as to create the impression of being a spam provider. There are ample tools today which help one schedule tweets for instance wherein the thoughts which stream in can be captured in one go but the releases can be staggered.

Keep it brief. In the attention economy we live in today, wherein there is so much competing for our share of mind all the time, the crisper the message, the more likely the acceptance. Gone are the days of reading the headline followed by the header, the body and the closing message. Think headlines, headlines, headlines. 140 (the limit for characters for a tweet) is the new frontier! Based on actual user feedback, I have made it a point to keep all my blog posts succinct.

Be relevant. The ultimate test of a user-centric approach is to be real-time and relevant. During discussions on current topics, the right input at the right time can make all the difference. I recollect an instance wherein people were going all over the place on a WhatsApp group chat when the person who provided the right data stole all the thunder. Goes to show that even social networks can run high on facts rather than mere emotions.

Don’t be afraid to use multimedia images and humor on occasion. While we tend to gravitate to text by default, doing something different once in a while such as a picture (which literally speaks a thousand words) or a humorous comment (many people are so wary of a joke going wrong!) creates the right amount of credibility or charisma. I cannot tell you how many times I have the audience in splits when I tell them that my young four year old son believes that his grandmother was born on Skype! (That is because he met her first on Skype and continued to have interactions with her via that medium before meeting her physically.)

While the above elements go into the making of the social media impression of the individual, it is also pertinent to note that, paradoxically, the social media networking outreach is not the endgame. Unless they are followed up with face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings are unlikely to result in lasting, meaningful relationships. Social media are just that - media - there is a human being who initiates interactions via the medium and there is another human being who receives interactions via the medium. The medium is subservient to the human beings involved and the sheer beauty of social media is the exponential rise in opportunities it provides to create a meeting of minds, hearts and souls.


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