The power of social media: How to stand out and make connections

The power of social media: How to stand out and make connections

by Katelyn Gainer

Social media is great for keeping tabs on your old college roommate or staying in touch with that aunt who lives in another state. As millennials, we’ve grown up with social media being part of our daily lives. It’s probably rare you go through your day without checking your accounts.

In this day and age of having everything a click away, have you considered the opportunities that could be at your fingertips? Outside of keeping in touch with your friends and family, social media can do wonders for your professional network. Social media has been one of my go-to tools to make connections and grow my network.

It doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1,000, if you put the time and energy into social media and engage with your followers, amazing things can happen.

Tell people about your passions and interests

Out of the number of things you can share on social media, I’m an advocate for sharing what you love. If it’s the alumni group you spend your free time planning events for or the acapella group you hang out with on the weekends – tell people about it. You’ll be surprised at the response you receive and discover the number of people who have mutual interests.

Plus, you never know what opportunities will arise. Early in my career, I was heavily involved in the arts and shared information on Twitter about local art happenings in Northeast Ohio. At the time, someone who followed me was starting a new publication and was looking for someone to write about the arts. After seeing my posts, they sent me a message. Soon after, I began writing for the publication and people began to take notice. I continued to make connections, became known for my articles, and only gained more writing opportunities from there. It had quite the domino effect.


You might think this one is a no-brainer but hear me out. I’m a big believer of authenticity, being yourself and putting that out into the world. People appreciate honesty, transparency and being able to relate to you as a peer. You never know what someone might be experiencing or struggling with in their personal or work life. I’ve put my personal experiences relating to everything from my career to self-care out there for my followers. The response has always been positively overwhelming. I’ve had people personally reach out to tell me their appreciation for my vulnerability and how they’ve had similar experiences. I have gotten to know many individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have reached out and those meaningful interactions turned into lasting connections.

Get engaged

I don’t mean find a fiancee. As with most things, it takes two people to make the most of a situation and build relationships. Engagement is key in the process. You can put as much content as you want out there but it will only take you so far. It’s much more than scrolling through your feed and liking posts. A like is great but take a moment to comment and share to continue to engage and start conversations. Most of my connections I’ve made on social media started with regular engagement on Instagram or Twitter.

Send that message

These are suggestions to help spur connections and cultivate relationships starting online. However, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t bring it offline and in real life. Reaching out to someone you haven’t officially met can be horribly intimidating but I promise, you’re not alone. I’ve made great community and business connections, and even some of my closest friends by originally following them on social media. I’m always flattered when someone reaches out to meet and I’m happy to oblige. In turn, I have yet to have someone say no to meeting with me when I’ve reached out.

I hope you’ll take these tips into consideration next time you hop online. Social media can be your best tool to make connections without attending that networking event on your calendar. Although I’ll always be an advocate for in-person conversations, social media is the perfect way to ignite these conversations and relationships. Get outside your comfort zone and reach out to that professional you’ve been wanting to get career advice from or that creative you have the perfect project to collaborate on together. Grab coffee or lunch and get the conversation started.

Katelyn Gainer is the marketing, events and development manager for Engage! Cleveland, a community engagement organization whose mission is to attract, engage and retain young, diverse talent to the Greater Cleveland area.