Segment your email subscriber list

Keeping up with social media can seem daunting if you already feel squeezed for time. But connecting with an online network is still considerably more efficient than traditional networking strategies.

If you are skilled at social media, you can achieve a broader reach online than you can through networking with a small group of people at a conference, says Jay Palter, chief engagement officer with Jay Palter Social Advisory in Calgary.

And your social network — both online and offline — is one of the most important sources of referrals and business opportunities you have. So, you should nurture that network, Palter says.

Here are three tips for making the most of your time online:

1. Develop a strategy
Checking your social media accounts can make you feel as if you’re dawdling if you don’t have a strategy in place.

“My recommendation for strategy is that you see social networks as a networking activity first,” Palter says. “Not a marketing activity.”

For example, LinkedIn is not the avenue for self-promotion; it’s for communicating with your network. The key is to “add value,” Palter says, which means listening to your network and sharing content that members would find relevant.

At the most basic level, you should ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and detailed enough to pique the interest of prospects. You can work on expanding your network, Palter says, by sending a personalized invitation to connect with prospects, clients and colleagues after meeting in person.

2. Create a routine
It’s not necessary to constantly monitor your accounts if you want to be effective on social media. Instead, schedule a small chunk of time in your calendar each week to interact with your online network.

People mistakenly think they need to spend time on social media every day, Palter says. While some people do reserve 15 minutes each morning for social media, others will spend 30 minutes every Friday or Monday interacting with their network.

3. Use scheduling tools
Scheduling tools, such as Buffer and Hootsuite, can streamline your social-media efforts by allowing you to plan content to be published later in the week.

“You can schedule content to be shared on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and any other social networks that you use,” Palter says, “so that you’re providing a regular stream of good-quality information that adds value to your network.”

However, Palter recommends, avoid using these kinds of tools until you have established your bearings on social media.

“The reason you share information is to be helpful to the people you’re connected with,” Palter says. You can’t be of service to your network until you fully understand what makes them tick.