Instagram may still be the best platform to slide into DMs.
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November 18, 2020 4 min read
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When it comes to networking online, recently, LinkedIn has been the dominant platform. While it’s a great place for people to connect, it isn’t always suited to reflect the nuanced and organic networking needs of smaller entrepreneurs. Some Facebook Messenger users still have the “secret inbox” where unsolicited messages go to die, and TikTok only allows DM’s from people who are already followers. But Instagram’s latest message filtering system actually increases the chance that your message will be read. Here are some tips for maximizing Instagram for networking opportunities.
1. Make sure your profile is up to date
Think of it this way. What do you do when someone sends you a friend request? You poke around their profile to figure out who they are. Your recipient will do the exact same thing. So first take a good look at your profile and ask yourself if that is how you want to be represented to whoever you are trying to network with. Make sure your profile has all the info necessary for someone to briefly stalk you online like your bio, city, and occupation. With our attention spans getting shorter and shorter, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to get a feel for who you are. Therefore everything you want them to know should be readily available. Having a well-written, detailed profile will help legitimize you before hitting that send button.
2. Curate your profile with the recipient in mind
Treat your profile like your portfolio. What’s the first thing that you want your recipient to see? Whatever it is, you have to put that right on top. For a lot of people, this means deleting or completely reorganizing posts in their Instagram profile. The idea here is to spare them from having to scroll through your feed to figure out who you are and what services you offer. Therefore your top row should accomplish three things: provide context to the nature of your work, establish authority in your work, and show social proof.
3. You need to put in the work first
Before you reach out with a direct message, first you need to establish a relationship so that your message doesn’t come across as spam. Spend some time researching people who you admire and would like to form a working relationship with. Follow them for a few days. Like their content, comment on posts, and add to the discussion. By contributing meaningful and insightful observations, your name and profile will stick out above the noise of other people who may be trying to network with them. Keep up the engagement until they start to interact with your likes and comments. This way when you do reach out with a DM, you are more likely to get a response.
4. Pitch etiquette
Make your message short and concise. It’s easy to get lost in pleasantries and flattery, so for the sake of brevity just mention who you are, what you offer, and then end with an open invitation for a conversation. Something like “Hey [recipient], I’m also a [occupation] who does [service]. Let me know if you would be interested in [offer.]” Make it sound personal and not like something you copy and paste all the time. Then comes perhaps the hardest part: waiting. When you don’t get a response within a day or two it will be tempting to send a follow-up message, but just have patience. Give it at least a week before sending another message. If you never get a response, don’t sulk. Just use Instagram’s “unsend” feature, and repeat the process.