Why build a network in the first place?
The actual value of a network isn't going to be seen immediately - it comes at different stages of your life: when launching a new business, asking for a trusted expert in X anybody might have worked with before, or even sharing experiences when it comes to business-related topics or shared hobbies.
You won't build your network overnight, so start today!
Building a network means establish a relation with many many people in your industry, but also other completely different industries. Such relations often get initiated on social media!
Social media is best used as a "social" environment to engage with each other. Dedicating time regularly to social media activity can be helping you enormously to build your network, as long as you take one key rule into account: your network will be built in the comments, not in your posts!
Where the real social magic happens is when discussing topics in the comments section or the twitter threads with others. This is where
What do you bring to the table?
A trusted relationship between yourself and another individual requires a value exchange: What do you bring to the table that's valuable for the other person? What experience, intel, or other form of value are they able to offer that can bring you ahead in your game?
Focusing discussions on giving part of your value can rapidly strengthen your relationship with the other person, and make them part of your personal or professional network.
Take it to the next level
While in today's social media world it's easy to connect with almost everybody via comments or DM, this is still a written interaction somewhat limited by the platform you're using, be it twitter, instagram messages, or facebook messenger.
To take a trusted social media relationship to the next level, a face-to-face conversation is ideal. You might want to ask social media connections to have a "virtual coffee" over zoom some day to share experiences around topic X.
Face-to-face contact, even if only over zoom, greatly intensifies a relationship and gives you a reason to stay in touch:
Events are where the magic happens
Over the years I've refined a methodology I usually apply before an actual event:
Following these tips, even if you wouldn't have known anybody at the event, you already have a good excuse to approach quite a few people to say hi (especially great for people having a hard time approaching strangers).
Everybody likes to get a gift. Once a relationship has reached a level where you might already have each other's mobile phone number and maybe write a whatsapp message here and there, it's a good time to ask for their physical address to send them a gift.
Such a gift is ideally something very personal. If you happen to know they're into skiing, a skiing wax kit could be an ideal present - it shows that you care for what they are interested in!
Sometimes it's harder to maintain the contact with your network, and to be honest, reaching out to someone today who you haven't been in touch for over several years is not going to put you in an awkward position.
I personally recommend you make a conscious effort to stay in touch with your connections - I've seen people even keep a spreadsheet or notion document about the people they actively want to stay in touch because they feel those relationship are and will be very valuable. Set up a recurring note in your calendar to make sure every Friday your reach out to 2 people on your list of important contacts to check in with them, invite them to a zoom call, send them a DM on social or comment on some of their contributions to social or blog articles.
This is such an important topic, I've even built a training around it, check it out!