Influence Secrets to Expand Your Online Network: Be Social

The term “social media” goes back to the mid 90s. There doesn’t seem to be consensus on who actually coined the term but it’s safe to say it wasn’t popularized until around 2004, when Facebook came into existence. As more and more social platforms came into existence “social media” became a household term.

Today too much social media seems to be broadcast media. To be sure, you can broadcast and be social but far too much that I see is simply broadcasting. By that I mean, some people share but never socialize. When that’s all you do then it’s media, not social media. What follows are three simple things you can do to put the social back into social media and build a strong network.

Reach Out  

Whenever you reach out, make sure you personalize your request to connect. DO NOT use the default, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” That’s seen as lazy and can come across as spammy because it’s so easy to do. That may not be your intention but nonetheless it might be what the recipient is thinking. 

And don’t use spammy messages like, “Hey, I just saw your profile. You’re amazing. I like to connect with like-minded people to help each other.” Yuck!

Use the person’s name and give a point of connection or pay a genuine compliment. I often get messages like these:

  • “I just finished one of your LinkedIn courses and thought I’d reach out to connect.”
  • “I read your book and would like to learn more, so I hope you’ll accept the connection request.”
  • “We have lots of connections in common. One person in particular is Joe D. He was a huge influence on me. Because of his influence and the mutual connection I thought I’d reach out to you.”

Adopt any of these approaches and your chances of making meaningful connections will go up immensely. 

Accept Connections

Even if someone sends me a default message, I don’t reject them, and you shouldn’t either. They might not know how to use LinkedIn or maybe they sent the request from their phone and didn’t realize they can personalize their message from the phone.

Here’s how you keep it social and build rapport; ask how they found you or why they reached out. 

  • “Pat, thanks for reaching out to connect. How did you come across my profile?”
  • “Chris, I appreciate you reaching out. How did you find me?”  

If someone does put a message in their connection request, acknowledge it!

  • “Sue, I really appreciate you letting me know why you wanted to connect. Most people don’t do that. Kudos!”
  • “Sam, I’m glad you enjoyed my [LinkedIn course, book, recent post]. Thanks for reaching out to connect. I hope you get a lot out of what I share.”

Each of the responses allow you to have authentic communication with people. Most will respond and that’s how you keep it social. 

Engage on Posts

When you post something and people comment, engage them by acknowledging what they had to say. They took time to comment and you should reciprocate by acknowledging them.

  • “Alan, thanks so much for the compliment.”
  • “Jean, I appreciate you taking time to comment.”
  • “Kim, I’m glad you got so much out of the article. Thanks for sharing it with your network.”

On the flip side, take time to share your thoughts on some of the posts your network shares. When you engage that way it’s likely they will engage in return. That’s how you build fans because they start to feel a connection with you.


Taking time to be social on social media is the way to meet great people and grow your network. By taking the approaches noted above I’ve connected with people from all over the world. I’ve also had the good fortune to meet many in person during my travels. The list includes Sean from Ireland, Dave from Scotland, Angela from England, Roger in Austin, Keelan from Chicago, Matt in Phoenix, and many more.  

If you’re not social on social media then you’re missing out on the best part of whatever your preferred platform happens to be.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories. 

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.

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  1. […] out was mentioned in last week’s post when I encouraged you to be social. Specifically, I said you should personalize your invite […]

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