Marketers have plenty of options for networking conferences throughout the year, and there is no shortage of suggestions where to go. Of course, there's also the chance to network without ever leaving your house. LinkedIn. Twitter. Facebook. Online communities. Even Slack. The digital networking choices for marketers seems endless.
According to a 2017 study by The Creative Group, 44 percent of advertising and marketing executives and 58 percent workers chose Facebook when asked which social media platform they would choose if limited to one for both professional and personal use. LinkedIn came in second, cited by 17 percent of creative managers and 13 percent of professionals. Executives anticipated Facebook will be the most important social media site for advertising and marketing for 2018.
What do some marketers and executives find most useful for their networking? We caught up with several to find out.
Related Article: Why Social Media Is So Addictive (And Why Marketers Should Care)
LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups
Tom Edwards, marketing manager at Ortho Consulting Group, said LinkedIn has been incredibly successful. It grows his professional connections, but also helps generate traffic. "Although I have a relatively small network, it is increasing daily," Edwards said. "The information that is freely available on LinkedIn is second to none for business owners, directors as well as sales and marketing teams. Follow a handful of influencers within your field, and you will be blown away with the information they share daily."
The key to success for him is personality, Edwards said. He switches off from automated sales pitches and InMails. "However," Edwards added, "if someone has taken the time to research me and send over a tailored intro, mentioned me in comments or interacted with me in a group, I will almost certainly engage and take follow-up action."
Edwards is a member of several groups focused on marketing. He finds the discussions, when filtered past sales posts, to be "incredibly powerful and enlightening." "Often industry or location specific," he added, "I have been able to build great dialogue and a network of highly accurate copywriters, graphic designers and networkers who I now communicate with daily."
Wes Marsh, director of digital marketing at Solodev, likes LinkedIn because it "offers considerably more professionalism than the other social media platforms. I use it to network every single day. Yes, even on weekends." To be successful with his time on LinkedIn, Marsh vets potential connections to see they're a real person and checks if they could provide some sort of benefit to his marketing goals beyond adding to my connections count. "I prefer LinkedIn because I can put an idea or theory on my page and get insightful responses and suggestions from connections," Marsh said. "It’s not shouting into the void that can so often happen on Twitter or Facebook. And because LinkedIn is tailored to professionals first, I’m more likely to get professional, actionable advice."
When Solodev wanted to plan a webinar series that specifically addressed the concerns CIOs, CTOs and other IT leaders had with regard to content management platforms, Marsh went to LinkedIn. It opened up honest discussions that Solodev used to not only market the webinar, but it used the exact questions to inspire content for the series.
Online Geniuses Slack Channel
Tiffany Elliot, marketing manager at The Moment, deems the Online Geniuses (OG) Slack channel as her best for networking. Online Geniuses is a community of people in the marketing space (writers, advertising, sales, etc. ) "where all kinds of great information and ideas are shared," Elliot said. "You can ask for help, suggestions and generally can get amazing feedback on everything from email subject line suggestions to high level strategy and how-to’s on various platforms/tools. It’s a really great community."
Kevin Lindon Ryan, marketing communications specialist for Humana, said Instagram has "quick visual literacy" which makes it "easy to find other marketers via images and hashtags, follows and direct messages for speedy — and successful — social networking. I often share tips with professionals in different markets to grow our businesses."
Angus Quinn, content marketing manager for Skimlinks, said marketers can attend any number of industry events or make connections on LinkedIn. But, he said, his networking and relationship building is really driven by human interactions. "In person that means drinks or a coffee, digitally it means human platforms like Instagram. I am a big believer that especially for millennials, the dividing lines between industry peers, colleagues — past or present — and friends are blurring, and platforms like Instagram are a much better way to keep up with people and interact with them, than something as formal and stilted as LinkedIn. Instagram is much more genuine than LinkedIn and "lacks the artifice people throw up at industry events," Quinn said.
Carter Hostelley, CEO of Leadtail, called Twitter the best for him to network because marketers are very active on the platform, share great content and are very open to connecting. "What happens with a conversation that starts on Twitter depends on the context," Hostelley said. "However, I always try to move the relationship along from Twitter to email to phone to in person, if possible."
Quora and Reddit
Ian McClarty, president of phoenixNAP Global IT Services, said he's active on both Quora and Reddit in communities associated with cybersecurity. "I have established myself as a thought leader within the communities which has lead to numerous client opportunities as well as general networking within my field," he said. Build a strong presence with frequent postings and interactions, McClarty added, and use it for branding. "You can market yourself above your competitors. Be active, focus on being an asset to the community, sharing useful content and advice," McClarty said.
Andrew Maffettone, director of marketing and operations at Seller’s Choice, uses LinkedIn and Facebook for networking with other marketers. However, he prefers Facebook. "I work with ecommerce sellers and a lot of companies that sell to ecommerce sellers have created their own Facebook groups for everyone to talk to each other. However, some platforms, like Shopify, have a partners group where it’s all other people who sell to ecommerce sellers. This is where I prefer to network with other marketers to learn about what they are doing," Maffetone said.
The most valuable networks are those that are very niche and stay within the industry he wants. "Marketing is a big word," he added. "How you do marketing for restaurants is very different from how you do it for B2B companies, so it’s easier to network with other marketers who are working in the same industry. Just from being in these I’ve learned about a TON of new apps and software I didn’t even know existed that has allowed me to further our business."