If you’re on Twitter you may have seen tweets all including the same hashtag #NLHour, #LincsHour, #UKBizLunch etc all happening at the same time. What you will have stumbled upon is an online networking hour.
“A what?” I hear you ask
An online networking hour, if you think networking (popping along to a meeting or event and saying hello to other businesses or individuals) but doing it online (on Twitter specifically) then you will start to get the idea. #NLHour for example is every Wednesday between 8-9pm but instead of you having to leave the comfort of your home, get your best work outfit on and remember your business cards you get to sit with your laptop, smart phone or tablet and network there.
How does it work?
During the designated hours use the hashtag in your tweets or search for the hashtag and see what people are saying. So either add in #NLHour on a Wednesday between 8-9 and wait to see if someone talks to you, or search for #NLHour and start introducing yourself to those waiting to be spoken to! Sometimes hosts of the hours set a theme to discuss (an icebreakers) so if there is a theme get involved with this.
What do I say?
Now this is key, you wouldn’t walk up to someone at a networking event and dive into saying everything your business can do, everything you can provide them and forcing your business down their throats (If you do this at networking events I’d be interested in knowing how its working out for you). Start by responding to their tweet, saying hello, asking how their day has been etc etc, small talk! If it’s relevant or you’re asked “What do you do” by all means answer the question but the point of these hours is to get to know other people using the same hashtag and start to build relationships.
What is the etiquette for these hours?
- If there’s something you like or is relevant to you, retweet it.
- If someone speaks to you using the hashtag then chat back. If you don’t it’s the equivalent of walking off when someone comes over an says Hi at an event … is this the impression you want for your business?
- Don’t just expect retweets of your promotional tweets if you’re not chatting or doing the same for others. And don’t ask for retweets that have no value or impact on others – “Retweet if you’ve seen this tweet” type tweets.
- Thank people who do retweet your tweets, they are sharing your business information with their followers
- Follow people you have found interesting and continue the chatter outside the networking hour
I think that’s enough for now and I hope it helps some of you new to Twitter or new to online networking. I will be compiling a post of other hours that may be of use very soon so keep your eyes out.
If you have any hints and tips, or comments on this post, please add them below!