Technology and innovation continue to challenge traditional communications and relationship building. Now more than ever, we rely on social media and peer connections to network, exchange best practices, make business decisions, and more.

For many, the ease of accessing information can be scary given the added exposure. Part of the reason I love social media is because of the increased visibility it provides. Gone are the days when we say one thing and do another, then hide behind a veil of secrecy hoping no one will find out. Thanks to social media, six degrees of separation is more like one to two degrees – and you never know who knows whom. So, it is in one’s best interest to treat every relationship honorably and with integrity.

But, with new social media platforms released daily, how do we know where to focus our energy particularly in cases where we may use social media as a resource to connect with the next generation? Let’s examine 4 quick tips to tap into the next generation using social media.

  1. Research

Know your audience. Who are they? Where do they “hang out”? While the masses tend to target large numbers, opt for quality over quantity; striving to connect with key individuals to build meaningful relationships.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media and their preferred sites include Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Except for those 65+, Facebook is used by most across a wide range of demographic groups. LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. About 50% of individuals with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.

  1. Connect

Authenticity is key when connecting through social media. Millennials and Gen Z pride themselves in sleuthing a fraud and they’re not afraid to call foul. To gain acceptance, many people on social media will show up as someone other than themselves, focusing on validation by the world’s standards and overemphasizing achievements and the ability to possess what others value. While it’s important to know what will pique your audience’s attention, avoid the temptation to compromise your values and beliefs.

  1. Engage

Don’t talk TO your new connections, speak WITH them. And don’t sell to your new followers/connections, EDUCATE [while entertaining] them! But even before using education-based marketing, do your due diligence. Identify their interests, which pages they follow, what/where they post, etc. Engage in their conversations… show genuine interest in them. This is where etiquette is key! Think of Facebook as a BBQ and LinkedIn as a Boardroom. Acceptable BBQ talk could land you a meeting with Human Resources if said in a Boardroom. All social media platforms are not created equally.

  1. Convert

IMHO [an acronym you’ll need to know if connecting with next gen] LinkedIn is THE go to social media platform to build business relationships. With a 600+ million business professionals strong platform, engaging with the LinkedIn community creates tremendous branding, business development, and recruitment potential.

As you’ve done the research, connected, engaged and educated, now it’s time to invite them to convert into customers. How? Understand your network’s needs, then work diligently to personally meet that need or [in Hebrews 13:16 fashion] connect them with the appropriate resource(s).

Posted by Kelly Leonard

In addition to being co-Area Developer of Nehemiah Project in Washington, DC Metro Area, Kelly Leonard is an author, keynote speaker, consultant, award-winning CEO, and former Fortune 100 Executive. A certified public accountant (inactive) and corporate trainer with 25+ years serving government, non-profit, private and public industries, Kelly has an innate ability to connect with diverse audiences across disciplines.

Prior to becoming CEO of Taylor-Leonard Corporation (T-LC), Kelly held leadership positions with GE Capital, Kaiser Permanente, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Currently, Kelly oversees Kelly Leonard Consulting; a division of T-LC that helps business leaders leverage LinkedIn to accelerate professional brands and powerfully communicate with their ideal markets. Through her trademarked B.O.O.S.T.® methodology, Kelly’s company generated $500,000+ in new consulting revenue in their core business (Customer Relationship Management) within a 2-year period through LinkedIn. She has since successfully helped 7,000+ business leaders implement B.O.O.S.T.® to increase revenue, build profitable strategic partnerships, connect with new clients, land dream jobs, and more.

Connect with Kelly on social media: LinkedIn + Facebook – @ktleonard | Twitter + Instagram – @kellytleonard