When trying to grow your business or make a name for yourself in your industry, creating connections with industry experts can be a great way to generate recognition.
You always want to be 100% genuine in these connections so that you don’t seem overly promotional and self-serving, and there’s a right and wrong way to go about them.
That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help you use social media to connect with the top experts in your industry and make genuine relationships. Use these tips as guidance when reaching out to relevant thought leaders.
1. Write About Them
The first strategy that I’m going to talk about is creating content surrounding a few of the top experts that you’re hoping to connect with.
There are a few different approaches to this, varying on your comfort level in reaching out to experts as well as how new you are to the industry.
We’ll start with the most basic way you can write about or mention top industry experts, and lead into more complex and intimate article types.
Mentions in Your Article
The most basic way you could include an expert within an article would be simply to mention them by name when you source one of their articles or quote something they’ve said or written in the past.
Many people feel most comfortable starting out like this because you’re not making an article all about an expert or a handful of experts. Instead, you’re creating your own content and focusing on a separate topic, but you’re still working in an expert’s opinion.
Not only does this give you an opportunity to connect with them on social media to let them know you’ve mentioned them, but it also helps provide even more credibility to your piece of content.
Once you’ve published your article, it’s time to promote it.
You can connect with any experts that you mentioned on LinkedIn and send them a message to let them know you’ve referenced in an article. You might also consider sharing the article on Twitter and tagging the expert(s) you included as well.
Here’s an example of a conversation that stemmed from a newsletter mention.
Reaching out directly and sending a link to the article/newsletter/source where you mentioned them can be a great way to start off a potential connection with thought leaders in your niche.
The next level option has two different avenues, one requiring more outreach than the other. I’m talking about putting together a roundup article, or aggregating similar content.
The first type of roundup post you could create is more about generating awareness and starting to create connections on social media, and is likely the route you’d want to take if you’re relatively new in your industry.
An example post like this would be, “Top 10 [Your Industry] Blogs to Read Right Now,” where you list out the top bloggers in your niche, link to their blogs, and explain why you love them. Another example is this article I wrote on Instagram accounts to follow.
You don’t have to reach out to anyone until after you publish your post and begin promotion. When you share your article, you can tag each person included in a really organic way, helping to generate attention around you and your post.
And just like with the last type of article, you can easily connect with each person on LinkedIn and shoot them a quick message to let them know they’ve been named in your roundup.
Speaking of LinkedIn, this can also be a great place to start conversations surrounding topics for upcoming articles, and also leads us to our second type of roundup – one that quotes experts.
This article on building an online community is the perfect roundup that sprung from a conversation on LinkedIn. The writer reached out to 21 different experts to get their feedback so she could compile them all together in an article.
Other great expert roundups can be found in these articles, one on time management for college students and another on influencer marketing tips. Both include direct quotes from tons of relevant thought leaders in their respective spaces.
One great way to share these posts is by creating social media graphics with expert quotes to share on Twitter and LinkedIn and further these connections.
The final option when writing about experts in order to create relationships is to do a full scale interview with an expert in your niche.
This will definitely take some outreach, and you may need to send a couple of follow up emails before you hear a response, but could absolutely be worth your while.
You can conduct an interview in a number of different ways, whether you choose to send questions over email or LinkedIn message, or whether you choose to hold a video interview on a live streaming platform.
You can create an article surrounding your interview, then share it on social media, tagging the expert. As this is a much more intimate collaboration, they’re also likely to share your interview, strengthening your online relationship.
Here’s an example of a social media post teasing an upcoming Instagram Live interview, creating even more of a relationship between these two connections.
2. Engage With Their Social Media Content
Another key strategy for connecting with industry experts on social media is to start conversations and regularly engage with their content.
Reply to tweets of theirs that resonate with you, comment on Instagram photos of theirs that you love, and things of that nature. Ask them questions and start real conversations.
You want to always ensure that you’re crafting genuine responses to their content to actually earn a reply back and to create real connections.
There are several social media tools that can help you to stay on top of new posts from accounts you want to watch, so you’ll never miss an opportunity to engage. (And while you don’t want to obsessively comment on every single post, this will help you find ones you have an authentic response to.)
Here’s a great example of a writer authentically crafting a response to someone else in her industry’s tweet.
Follow Masooma’s lead and start engaging with people within your industry much more often.
3. Share Their Content
Put together a list of the top experts you’d love to create connections with. Read their blogs or online articles often and share the ones you love most on social media.
Each time you do this, be sure to tag the author. This can help to grab their attention, and they may respond to thank you for sharing.
If they do, this is a great opportunity to grow your connection by telling them exactly what you loved about the article or what your thoughts were about certain things they may have written.
This is a great way to start a real conversation with thought leaders that you want to make a good impression on.
If you’re unsure of how to go about this, here’s a great example that shows you just how easy – and effective – this can be. (If you didn’t notice, the expert this tweet author tagged retweeted the post!)
You don’t need to stress too much on how to craft these posts. Simply include the post’s topic, tag the author, and include a bit about what makes the post so awesome.
Furthermore, you should also share their social media posts. Whether you retweet or quote tweet their post, share a post on LinkedIn, or even add an Instagram post onto your Instagram story, this is a great way to catch their attention.
Be sure to add your own commentary like in this example below.
Giving your input is a great way to offer more to your own followers as well as create more of an opportunity for the expert to reach out to you with their own thoughts.
4. Be Active on Social Media
Have you ever found someone’s social media profile that looked interesting at first glance, but upon further inspection, you realized they haven’t actually shared anything of substance since 2016?
Don’t let that be you.
If you grab an industry expert’s attention, and they go to check out your profile, you want them to be entertained.
If your entire social media presence consists of only one type of content (i.e., promoting your blog posts or auto-sharing Instagram photos to your Twitter or Facebook), or you haven’t actually posted in a year, people aren’t going to follow you.
You want to make sure you’re both active on social media and posting a variety of content. Entertain potential followers, and entice them to want to stick around or engage with your content.
Here are a few ways you can make sure to do this:
- Schedule Content: Don’t waste your day away on social media. Instead, spend a few minutes each day or week compiling content to share, then schedule it ahead of time with one of these social media scheduling tools.
- Start Conversations: Start conversations with people all over the platform, not just the experts you’re trying to court. This way, you always have something going on when it comes to your online presence and people can see that you’re active.
- Go Live: Whether it’s for an interview with an expert or a solo livestream, going live on social media is a great way to keep up with your online presence and social media trends. Put together a few talking points and just speak to your audience.
- Schedule Regular Check-Ins:Managing your social media presence all day every day can be exhausting and lead to burn out where you just don’t want to talk to anyone.
That’s not your goal here, so make sure you schedule regular 15-minute check-ins where you can be in the social media zone, but it won’t consume your life or your daily routine.
5. Collaborate On a Contest or Giveaway
This is a great idea if you and the experts you’re aiming to connect with have a similar or joint target audience because it gives you a chance to give back to your audience.
Consider reaching out to business owners and thought leaders within your niche to put together a contest or giveaway where the prize is a combination of everyone’s services or valuable digital products.
There are tons of ideas you can come up with to gather entries, whether you have them take a quiz, insert their email address or another creative method.
Here’s a great example of a contest put together by a lot of industry professionals, whether individual experts or relevant companies, for a prize fit for a top notch course creator.
Need help with your next contest ?
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6. Be Professional
Last but not least, make sure you’re starting genuine and professional conversations with each expert you hope to connect with. You don’t want to appear to be trying too hard or cross boundaries into being too friendly in a professional setting.
Make sure all of your responses offer some kind of value to the conversation. You know how to network in person – all you want to do is translate those same ideas into the digital space.
Be kind, helpful, and friendly, and you’ll start to create genuine connections with industry experts in no time.
To help you understand a bit more about what you should and shouldn’t be doing, we’ve put together a quick list of do’s and don’ts.
- Watch your language. You’re not having wine-fueled conversations with your best friends, you’re creating professional connections online.
- Perform a grammar check. Don’t let embarrassing typos hold you back. Proofread your posts or use a tool like Grammarly.
- Mind your privacy. Pay attention to which profiles are private and which are public, as well as how much information you share online.
- Share what makes you unique. You do want to entice people to follow you and connect with you, and that involves sharing your interests and opinions online. Just be careful about being too opinionated about controversial topics.
- Make it all about you. Your job here is not to be promotional and self-serving. It’s to create some give and take in your professional relationships.
- Share inappropriate comments or photos. Keep everything professional and PG. There’s no HR, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make others uncomfortable.
- Make disparaging comments about work.Never speak negatively or name call employers, clients, colleagues, etc., because it could easily get back to them as well as tarnish your reputation.
- Be nosy or cross lines. Remember that you’re creating surface-level, professional relationships. Don’t try to pry or ask too many questions.
Start Creating Genuine Connections on Social Media
Feeling fired up and ready to start some conversations on social media? Remember what we covered. Write about your favorite experts, engage with them on social media, share their content, collaborate with them, be active online, and of course, remain professional.
About the Author
Chloe is a Content Marketing Manager at Visme, an online graphic design software. She loves to write about digital marketing and design and find new ways to engage audiences through content. Chloe is based in Charleston, SC, where she loves exploring her city with her son.