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7 ways to turn Instagram profiles into networking opportunities

by | Apr 3, 2023 | Marketing, Public Relations

In the PR industry, we all know it’s all about who you know.

The right person at the right company at the right time can help you close a partnership or deal you used to only dream about.

From locking arms to achieve higher growth goals together to solidifying a mutual value exchange, there are abundant opportunities waiting for you when you nurture relationships with industry peers.

Enter: Instagram marketing

If your industry peers are using Instagram, you can’t afford to skip out on this valuable networking tool.

Today, we’ve put together seven simple strategies you can use to connect with your peers using your Instagram profile.

Curious to learn more? Let’s begin!

1. Use relevant hashtags

Want to get discovered by peers in your industry? Don’t forget about the importance of using relevant industry hashtags.

Hashtags are a great way to network and promote a small business, especially if you’re marketing a local, brick-and-mortar store. The following Lubbock florist post is a great example of how a local business can use Instagram hashtags to build relationships in their area.

7 ways to turn Instagram profiles into networking opportunities

(Image Source)

Hashtags help make your posts more visible to other users so you can reach new people with similar interests.

Here are some examples of hashtags you might use:

  • If you’re in the beauty and cosmetics PR industry, you might use hashtags, such as #beautyPR, #beautybrand, #beautybrandmarketing, #cosmeticsPR, #cosmeticsindustry
  • If your firm handles PR for luxury real estate agencies, you might use hashtags like #luxuryrealestatePR, #luxuryhomes, #luxuryhomesPR, #luxuryrealestate
  • If you’re in the health and wellness PR industry, you might use hashtags, such as #healthandwellnessPR, #PRhealth, #PRwellness, #healthandwellnessindustry

2. Invite your audience to attend a live Q&A or webinar

Invite your audience to network with you via a live Q&A or webinar.

Whether you market consumer products like truck accessories or digital solutions like image editors, you can use live streams to answer questions about what you’re promoting, how it works, and where your vision is heading.

This is also a great networking method to use if you market services, too.

For instance, if you’re doing PR for a business coach or an online doctor, you can encourage them to use live streams to connect with their target audience. Or, you can show up to answer questions on their behalf — or show up to network with other online doctors and coaches in the industry.

Take your online presence offline by making it easy for people to connect with you. Include your social media handles, or maybe even a QR code to your social media pages, on your business cards and other printed materials.

3. Use engagement stickers in Stories

A simple way to invite your peers to engage and network with you is by using engagement stickers in your Stories. Remember to include relevant hashtags in your Stories, too, so more users get a chance to view them!

If you haven’t heard of engagement stickers, they’re simply digital “stickers” Instagram allows you to add to your Stories to invite viewers to take some form of action.

Engagement stickers can also encourage Instagram to put your Stories in front of even more users. They’re one more reason for your audience to communicate with you.

Let’s take a look at some of the engagement stickers Instagram offers and some examples of how to use them to get people talking.

  • The question sticker

Do you market for fashion brands and specialty occasion stores? Use the question sticker to ask your audience what they think about one of your brand’s latest lines of custom-tailored pants for men. You never know what kind of fashion personnel could reach out to you in your DMs!

  • The poll sticker

Use the poll sticker to get a clearer picture of what your audience thinks, knows, or believes about something. You can also use it to find out if they’re currently using a specific product or service you’re marketing.

For instance, if you recently onboarded a pet insurance brand, you could use a poll sticker to ask the audience a simple question like “do you currently have cat health insurance?” This could also open up doors to meet other niche pet brands who might be interested in your services or creating a partnership.

7 ways to turn Instagram profiles into networking opportunities

  • The link sticker

Want to conduct a virtual business card blast in Stories? Use the link sticker to embed links into your virtual business card posts.

When conducting in-person marketing, use physical business cards that include QR codes to your Instagram accounts. This way you can cross-market your Instagram page no matter where you are.

  • The quiz sticker

Want to learn more about which habits or thoughts your audience has around a specific topic?

Do you market for SaaS brands and tech companies and need to discover which apps and tools their target audiences use most?

Use the quiz sticker to ask questions like “which social media management tool do you use to batch and schedule your content?”. Or “which productivity apps do you use most often?”.

4. Ask a question your peers you’d like to network with are curious about

What kinds of topics are on your peers’ minds? What common industry-related questions and themes are they currently discussing? What matters most to them?

Use these insights to create a robust list of questions to highlight in your IG content going forward.

This is crucial to helping you cover subject matter people in your industry actually care about engaging with. As you continue to bring up the latest trends and topics, you can help position yourself as a curious, thoughtful, authoritative leader and stir up a buzz with professionals that can help you advance your career and objectives.

For instance, if you represent career development consulting agencies, industry peers might be curious about content that highlights and answers the following questions:

  • What do you think it takes to become the best career consulting agency?
  • What are today’s teams struggling with most at work?
  • Which employee development programs do you consider a no-brainer?
  • What growth plan goals should companies set for their employees?
  • Should every team member have access to career development opportunities?
  • Should companies be required to set up career growth plans for each individual employee and manager?

5. Use direct messaging thoughtfully and intentionally

Have you noticed a new set of industry professionals digesting your content lately? Are you getting more comments on your posts from peers you’d like to connect with?

If so, why not reach out to them with a warm DM?

While cold DMs can work with the right strategy and intention, if someone has been showing interest in your content, you may find more success getting them to open up in a private message versus people who haven’t engaged.

7 ways to turn Instagram profiles into networking opportunities

When reaching out to connect, be specific, kind, and professional. Thank them for engaging with your content and invite them to continue building a connection.

Here’s an example:

“Hey Sydney! Thanks so much for your intriguing comments on my posts about productivity tips for enterprise team members these last few weeks! I especially liked your thoughts about time blocking versus restricting employees to a 9-5 schedule. I’d love to continue connecting with you. Can I add you as a connection on LinkedIn?”

If you feel like your online relationship merits a virtual coffee or in-person meetup, consider saying something like: 

“Hi Axel! Always love connecting with you in Stories! Would love to hear more about what you think about the advancement of EdTech. Would you be up for a virtual coffee sometime next week?”

6. Tag peers and invite them to join the conversation

When you’ve already put in the work to establish solid relationships with industry peers, a simple way to continue nurturing those connections and also open the door to new ones is by inviting them to join the conversation.

For instance, if you’re planning on starting a series on the advancement of customer information availability for brick-and-mortar retail stores, you could tag other peers you’ve cultivated relationships with in the retail industry and ask them to contribute.

Here’s an example:

“Did you know that by 2030, you’ll be able to walk into an aisle at a retail store and its built-in tech will actually be able to recommend products you’ve previously purchased? @(IGUserExample1) and @(IGUserExample2), have you heard of this? What do you think?”

7. Include networking-driven CTAs in your posts and Stories

Sometimes the best way to turn IG into a networking opportunity is to simply announce that you’re looking to network with like-minded peers and industry experts!

A simple way to do that is by including networking-driven CTAs in your posts and Stories, such as “Curious to dive into this more? Let’s connect! Grab a slot on my calendar here.”

Wrap up

Using your Instagram profile strategically is a great way to network with peers in your industry.

If you’re ready to build meaningful relationships, start by choosing one tactic on our list. Then another. Then another.

Pretty soon you’ll be nurturing relationships on a consistent basis. No thanks needed!

Here’s to your success!

Jeremy Moser
Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.

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