In June 2016, I checked seed4future’s email box and I found there: “Looking for partnership to grow my NGO”. What an excitement! This message came when I was questioning the impact of six months spent on social media, sharing development blog posts. Two months later, I met with Mr. James for 2 hours in Nairobi for our first encounter after weeks of online discussions.
The connection with Mr. James leads me to be connected with 4 others development professionals in Nairobi, Netherlands, and Uganda. Today, we still exchange through Facebook inbox conversations and I am planning how to grow our partnership.
It’s good to understand that social media friendships or virtual friendships can fall into professional, family or emotional links. In this article, I focus only on the professional aspect of virtual relationships. I would like to share my personal experience on how I started some true friendships on social media.
- From physical to virtual. One of the easiest ways to make genuine friendships online is to be connected to people you know in the normal professional life through one of the media channels. In case one of you travel or have to work in remote places, you are sure to maintain quality conversations and updated information about each other.
- From Virtual to Physical. Some professional relationships start online like the one I have with Mr. James. Most professional who get recruited for examples through online application have to meet later to sign documents or have physical meetings to confirm the identity of the new recruit.
- Find common interests. If you integrate online groups that share the same professional vision with you, you will more likely find true friends there. Linked for example is one the most successful networking community where you will easily connect to new professional and develop authentic interactions.
- The law of the 100th. This law stipulates that if you have 1000 contacts in social networks connections, only 10 will be active. Though this approach is mostly used by marketing professionals, you can also use it to grow your network by simply inviting people to join.One way to easily do it is by inviting friend of friends; Also, if you receive an invitation (even if you know the person), make sure you go on the person’s profile page to check if it’s not a hacker; Generally hacker have fake information about the date their page was created or their birthday.
- Propose your skills. When I started blogging, one of my goals was to put my professional CV in form of written evidence of my skills. In fact, Mr. James contacted me because he read one of my articles on fundraising for African NGO. Proposing your skills through blogging could take time but it makes an expert in your area. Relationships built from such channel are everlasting.
- Attract them. Finally, you can start a good relationship online by attractively positioning yourself on different social media. By attracting them, I mean to do something that is relevant enough for someone to say: “I would like to connect with him” or “I would like to see his profile”. The best way is to decide to share something valuable on social media like “tips for success”, “ways for breakthrough” or motivational messages.
I encourage you to start a blog and write interesting topics for professionals and you will surely attract some friends. I did it and in less than one year, I grew my contacts to 1263 on Facebook and 208 on LinkedIn; this is without the numerous groups I am belong to.
If you found this article interesting, share it in your network. You can also write to let me know how you built true professional relationships online.