The Trick(s) to Networking on Social Media

networking on social media

This isn’t your ordinary night spent in front of the TV, clutching a small glass with ice cubes clinking inside.

You have somewhere to be, and people are expecting you to show up representing the best version of yourself.

Tonight is different than most nights because you are on your way to a networking mixer downtown, invited by a recruiter who is incredibly connected and you believe can help you take the next step in your career.

Big important people are going to be there, you just know it, and you are ready to make a lasting impression that will change your career trajectory.

Your hair is right, your breath smells great and you feel confident as you drive into town with the windows down and Nelly’s “It’s getting hot in here” blasting on the radio.

Wait. Hold up.


That’s right, Nelly. Because the last time a networking mixer was worth your time was around 2002, which was also about the last time anyone heard from Nelly.

Real connections are more digital than ever. Sounds like an oxymoron, “real connections are digital” – but it’s true. Social Media is your new business pal, not just a place to share how you felt when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl.

[bctt tweet=”The tricks to networking on social media (and a bad Nelly reference) #sportsbiz”]

Alas, the idea of networking on social media is still in its nebulous stage. Most are still confused how to leverage the social power and make their connections matter, which is where we come in with some handy advice on how to turn your social media accounts into something besides a holding chamber for memes.

Where to Make The Best Connections

Before we tackle how, we need to decide where.

There are hundreds of social media platforms, recently I received a “special invitation to join Ello” – where I can “Join the millions in the Ello community who are creating, sharing, and connecting every day“. Which kind of sounds like every. single. social. media. site. alive.

Which brings up the exact point I want to make, you can’t be everywhere, so how do you know where to best spend your time?

If your goal is to network on social media, LinkedIn is the obvious choice:

  • They have 300 million+ members all there to with the goal of building their professional network
  • Personally caress your professional identity
  • Interact with groups that share the same business and career interests as you
  • Access business related articles from thought leaders and companies

More importantly, there is less BS to sift through. It is more targeted. It is more focused. And you feel less dirty and wasteful after you spend an hour or two on it. (Can you tell I’m a fan?)

LinkedIn is also an easy way to make contacts, but please, please, please, if you get nothing out of this article but this one moment, savor this advice: Don’t just connect and move on.

[bctt tweet=”What social media platform is the best use of your professional time? #sportsbiz”]

Here’s what happens all too often on LinkedIn:

  1. User A sends connect request to popular, valuable and handsome User B*
  2. User B accepts, they might not know the person but they are willing to be professionally connected to people out there that share the same interests
  3. After accepting the request to connect, User B never hears a peep out of User A. There is no dialogue. There is no shared experience. There is no purpose.

User B then sits back and wonders what User A actually accomplished by going through the process of connecting?

(*Oh heck, let’s call User B Brian Clapp, it’s clear I’m talking about myself)

This is not networking on social media. This is artificially inflating your connections to make you feel like you accomplished something when you have actually accomplished less than RGIII or the corpse of Greg Oden.

Rules of Engagement: Have a purpose with every attempted connection.

When you make a request to connect include a reason, like: “I just read your article on why a sports management degree is incredibly useful, I really appreciated it and would love to connect.” Dialogue like that works because it shows you are a real person, that you value the other person’s contribution and well, you flattered them – who doesn’t like that? (Works on me every time)

Now here’s the trick to deepening any networking relationship post-connection – find out where they hang:

  • Do they manage a group?
  • Do they comment in certain places?
  • Do they post their articles or thoughts?

If you want to build a meaningful connection, post and comment in their group, share their articles on your timeline, like their comments and engage with their thoughts. Now they may actually start to recognize your name, which means they are ripe and ready for an actual well thought-out question from to prepare for your sports job search ebook

So go ahead, ask.

Make it specific, make it smart, make it something they can answer…and you know what, they will probably answer about 75% of the time. But there are a few things you shouldn’t ask (all of these things have been asked of me by total strangers by the way):

  • DO NOT ask for a job, they don’t know you
  • DO NOT ask for a reference, they don’t know you
  • DO NOT come out and ask to be connected to someone in their network, they don’t know you

Those things hopefully come up at a later date, but if you ask for them upfront before you are a known commodity to them, you will be treated like Ickey Woods treats cold cuts.

So remember the rules of networking on LinkedIn: Don’t just make a connection…really connect!

Summing up Networking on Social Media via Other Sites in Three Paragraphs

I probably made it clear I don’t think of Facebook for business networking (especially after they made Fan Pages irrelevant unless you pay, but that’s another frustrating story) that said, there is value in there, it just takes a little longer to incubate. Facebook networking works best with a small business that you want to build connections within, because bigger pages and famous people aren’t going to notice you. And don’t try to connect with people directly you don’t know on Facebook, it’s creepy. If you like their fan page or business page now that is fair game. Once you do, comment, like and share – it’s that simple. I manage our Work in Sports Facebook page and I recognize the names of the people that support us. If they asked me questions I would return the favor by answering. (That’s a long paragraph, but I said I’d keep it to three total)

OK, on to Twitter. This is simple. Follow the right people and harness the power of the RT. Share their intellectual property and you become memorable because RTing is the digital age’s best form of flattery. Many people and businesses have a policy of following back those who RT their content – I know we do. So now that we follow each other, and you’ve been sharing my content, I’m not adverse to a DM. Same rules apply that we discussed in Linkedin, be smart, ask smart, don’t beg.

As for the rest of the spots for networking on social media, well, I want to hear your ideas. Have you used G+ with great success? Figured out a lifehack for StumpleUpon? Share it in the comments, I want to hear how you are networking on Social Media!

(Told you it would be three paragraphs)

The Trick(s) to Networking on Social Media
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The Trick(s) to Networking on Social Media
Networking on social media is where you should be spending your time, we'll teach you how to do it right!
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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.


  1. Zsolt Melczer says

    Very useful article indeed. Thank you very much.

  2. Brett Rajotte says

    This is a great article for a newbie to LinkIn. I admit to being “old school” when it comes to networking, but your article made it all appear less daunting! – Thanks – Brett

  3. Greg Blevins says


    Thanks for the advice. Great article.

  4. Thanks for the advice Brian. I’ve had trouble landing a job in sports and I think your approach to connecting on linked in will definitely help me in the future.

  5. This is great information. I tell people about LinkedIn all the time. I need to do more mingling and never thought of twitter.

  6. Eddie Fitzgibbon says

    Thanks for this Brian. I think LinkedIn is a fantastic tool and there is so much in there that one can harness to their own benefit – individual or company. In addition, it seems that more and more jobs and some really interesting articles are also being posted regularly. I find myself on it daily.

    Thank again

  7. Hello Mr.Brian ,

    Your article is very interesting and I have used many of these tricks and got myself jobs from LinkedIn but I will also like to add here that most of the people on top posts are not even willing to revert , let go asking for conversation leading to Job . I have attended so many events and read so many articles where these top of the chain say , ” we should help youngsters come up .” But has anybody asked them , how many have they helped ? . The entire networking works on person to person basis . If a person wants to help and is actually interested in sharing something , only then they will revert otherwise they will just add as dead connection . You like status , article , comment ….they give shit . The truth is most of the people on LinkedIn who can actually make you move ahead are either selfish or don’t believe in helping at all. The number of people who really want to help and do is very less . Please , don’t take this as angry comment , I am just sharing my experience .

    Regards ,

    • Ujjwal – it sounds like you have some rough experiences online, sorry you haven’t found the right people yet – let me know if I can help. Brian

  8. Great article, Brian. I will share it with my readers!

  9. William Maddox says

    Great advice! I love reading your articles Mr. Clapp.

  10. As someone who is guilty of connecting on LinkedIn and then doing nothing, I appreciate your perspective. I’m going to give it a try.

    Thanks Brian!

  11. Great article Brian, it reminded me of some of the things I should and more importantly should not be doing! Btw as an American sports writer have you been following the new PRO Rugby comp?

    • A little – I’m trying to get up to speed on rugby, I think it will grow here in the states…much like Lacrosse has. Thanks for reading Guy

  12. Hey Brian,
    New but avid reader of your articles with 2 questions.
    1. What about the connections that you don’t mean to initiate? Say I’m looking at an article and click the profile to see related articles, where they work, etc. then they see I’ve viewed their profile and they request to connect. I don’t want to be rude and not connect so how would I maximize that connection?

    And 2. Do you have any other suggestions on where I can find more sport industry relevant articles like yours?

    Thank you!

    • Hey ben , glad you enjoy our content! As for not contacts you didn’t mean to initiate – I’d say there is something you can learn from everyone, so accept the contact and then try to make meaningful contact with them. There is something out there they know better than you, so just ask questions and see where it leads you. I keep thinking about an article I read this weekend on how the Patriots had Vanderbilt coach Derek mason at their training camp. After he asked his questions and they helped him with some stuff, they turned around and said “tell us about what you are doing at Vanderbilt.” Here is the 5-time super bowl champion Patriots coaching staff, and they aren’t thinking we know it all…they’re thinking there is more that we can learn, from anyone. You know, this concept may make a good blog post…(mind whirring) best of luck, Brian


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