Spend more than five minutes on the social media channel of your choice and you’ll find no shortage of experts clamoring for attention and boasting the secret formula to creating immediate celebrity status.
This type of marketing is attractive to new entrepreneurs, who may not know any better, and certainly appeals to those looking for short cuts. Think about it, who wouldn’t want to attain instant name recognition and fast track success?
The reality is there isn’t a short cut. It takes effort. Rather than wasting time trying to rout out magic pills, focus your attention on tried-and-true formulas for getting people to become interested in you. Pick up a copy of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and apply his teachings. Originally published in 1936, the masterpiece is as relevant today as the day it was written. If you’ve already read it once, then read it again. It’s just as good the second time around.
One of the first things that struck me while reading Carnegie’s words many years ago was that the themes weren’t complex at all. In fact, many of the guiding principles outlined throughout the seminal work were ideas we learned as children.
When it comes to using social media for business purposes, there are a few fairly simple ways to get people interested in you and what you have to offer. In the spirit of keeping things simple, here are five ways to position yourself as a professional worth knowing.
 Project the right image
Think about the way you want to be perceived by others. How do you want them to see you? Your answer should guide the way you present yourself. If you’re like me then, as a child, some caring adult repeated the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover,” which is a good principle to live by. But the reality is that we still make judgements about others every day. These snap judgements can be based on any number of things such as appearance, affiliations, or the language used in posts and on profile pages. To make a positive first impression when connecting online, it’s important to project the right image. Choose a professional looking headshot as a profile image and be mindful of the wording used in communication.
Imagine only having ten seconds to make a dynamic first impression. If your ideal client goes to your website or social media profile right now, will the person be impressed? Does your page project the image your ideal customers are looking for or is it repelling them away?
 Level up your connection game
When meeting someone for the first time in real life, common courtesy is to extend a friendly greeting or welcoming gesture and offer a short introduction. Do the same thing in the digital space. After connecting with someone on social media, send a brief personalized greeting to thank the individual for connecting. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but should be genuine. This can be easily achieved within three sentences. Put a little extra emphasis on the social component of your social media experience. This is also an opportunity to make a great first impression.
 Build a relationship based on value
People buy from those they know, like, and trust. The way we develop business relationships is no different from any other type of relationship. While the context and circumstances may differ, the approach is the same. First we become familiar with the individual, then establish common ground, and finally develop confidence in the person having our best interests in mind. This is a process and can take time depending on a person’s criteria for developing relationships.
Don’t try and sell your products and services the moment you connect with someone as this can come off pushy or insincere. This is like asking someone for sex upon first meeting. While you may not get a slap in the face for trying to sell your product, it’s likely to make a bad first impression.
 Respect boundaries and privacy
In the digital space, a person’s email address is a highly valuable piece of information. It marks a direct line of communication to the individual. A person could miss an ad or special promotion on a given platform but sending content straight to the person’s inbox gives the recipient an opportunity to view the information when it’s most convenient. However, this is a privilege that should be given by the potential customer not taken by the business.
For example, most social platforms include a “contact” area or button that provides the profile owner’s email address for private connection. While the user has posted this information to welcome direct communication, it doesn’t grant permission to be unknowingly added to a marketing list without proper consent. Good intentions are not an excuse for adding someone to a mailing list without their knowledge. Show that you have their best interests in mind by respecting boundaries and earn the privilege of marketing your brand directly to the individual.
 Deliver a clear message
Pick a niche and stick with it. Avoid trying to be a jack of all trades. Remember, when you try to help everyone then you end up helping no one. If you’re a health coach, then focus on giving tips that will help your audience create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re a relationship expert, then offer advice that couples can use to strengthen their love for each other. If you’re a chef, then share recipes that will tantalize your viewers’ taste buds. Don’t be a health expert on Mondays and a cryptocurrency advisor on Tuesdays, as this will only confuse your audience.
In the event that you have multiple unrelated areas of expertise then separate the messages by giving each its own distinct website or social media presence. This way when viewers land on your page they will find the specialized content they are seeking rather than having to sort through a smorgasbord of information.
These tips are easy to remember and simple to employ. Incorporate them in your daily online experience and start positioning yourself as a professional worth knowing.
This article originally published on Entrepreneur