Some of my most meaningful connections, friendships, career opportunities, event sponsors all share one thing in common…the relationship started with a direct message (DM) via social media.
For those who may be unfamiliar, a direct message (most commonly referred to as a DM) is a private message sent to a user via any social media platform. You can send DM’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
The thing is, DMs often get a bad rap.
Photographer: Gooseberry Studios
For most people, when they think of DM’s, networking doesn’t necessarily come to mind as they can often be used inappropriately.
Those instances aside, direct messages are the best way to initially connect with someone. Think about it – the average person spends hours on social media each day so this means they are more likely to see and respond to a DM than an email. On Instagram alone, there are over 700 million users! As marketing genius Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Instagram DM is the single biggest networking or business development opportunity of this decade.”
But, there’s an art to it! Crafting the perfect DM is a little more strategic than an email – you want to be short, concise, friendly + highlight your value.
Here are six tips on how to effectively use direct messages for networking:
Address them by name
Yes, it may not be an email but you should still approach a DM with the same professionalism that you would with any other method of communication. It instantly makes the message more personal and doesn’t come off as just a generic templated message. If you’re reaching out to a company and you’re not sure who to address the message to, I recommend simply addressing them with a friendly greeting such as “Hi! Or “Hi there!” or “Hi [insert company name] team!”.
Make it personal
It doesn’t feel very nice to receive a message that has clearly been copy and pasted without any concern about who you are. Take the time to include a genuine compliment and/or show that you’re up to date on their work. You could mention a recent blogpost of theirs that you enjoyed, a recent event that they had – anything that shows that you’ve done your homework and you’re genuinely interested in what they do.
Keep it short and sweet
You don’t want to overwhelm the person with a super long paragraph, especially if you’ve never contacted them before! Instead, craft a short but valuable message that is quick and easy to read – you’ll be much more likely to get a response!
Highlight your value
This tip is especially important when reaching out to a brand or another person for a potential collaboration or sponsorship. Imagine how many messages they must get per day! To increase the chances of your message not being lost in the mix, be direct about what value you can provide in no more than two sentences. This will likely pique their interest and they’ll reach out to learn more.
Sure, social media is a more “casual” way to communicate but that doesn’t mean you should forget about professionalism. Construct your DM with the same etiquette that you would with an email – just a much more simplified version. Pay attention to your spelling and grammar, spell your words out (i.e. choose “you” over “u”) and end the message with your name so the person knows who to address their response to.
End with a call to action
This is a best practice with any sort of initial outreach message that you’re sending in order to encourage the other person to respond. For example, if you’re reaching out to a company and would like to get direct contact information you could end with “Could you share the contact details of the best person to get in touch with?”
So what does a “good” DM look like? Here’s a sample:
Absolutely loved your post on using DMs for networking – you always share such great tips! I’ve been following you for a while and I’d love to connect. I’m a business owner that is passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs. Do you have any time in the next few weeks to grab a coffee?
If I were to receive this message, I would automatically respond as:
- They have addressed me by name
- They made it personal by mentioning that they’ve read one of my recent posts
- They show what they have in common (a passion for female entrepreneurship)
- They end with a question – encouraging me to immediately review my schedule and respond
Direct messages don’t have to be intimidating. Be friendly, concise and professional and you’ll get the response you’re looking for almost every time!
Have you ever used DMs for networking?