No matter what industry you’re part of, there is a social site that is made for it. You’ve likely heard the saying that “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” That’s why networking on industry-specific social sites is so important. In addition, it will help you keep up with, and even stay ahead of, fads within your industry. To take advantage of industry-specific social sites, it’s important to consider the following.

1. Follow the Rules

Each social site will have its own rules and they are important to follow. You don’t want to go into any social site, no matter where it is hosted, and immediately start promoting yourself and posting links. Read the rules, follow the rules and you’ll soon find that you’re an accepted member.

2. Craft an Outstanding Profile

If you are able to create a specific profile for the social site, make it great. You want your profile to be like a mini, toned-down sales page so that when someone clicks to read, they want to click through to your website too.

3. Upload a Professional Headshot

Today people are quite informal online but when you are part of a professional industry, get a headshot that fits. Some industries are more casual than others. Fit the image that the industry has, but also allow your personality to show through. Most of all, be tasteful.

4. Take Time to Observe Members

Before jumping in, observe how the members interact. There are some cases where you’ll realize you don’t want to be part of the group due to something that is going on. Other times you’ll realize you’ve hit the jackpot of informed industry leaders and experts that you can engage with. The idea is to get to know who the movers and shakers are in the group.

5. Get to Know Members

As you start identifying members that you want to get to know, reach out and do an introduction post. Start commenting on the movers’ and shakers’ posts and activities. Ask questions and attend meetings. Participate in as much as you can. The more you get to know the members of the group, the more you can help each other.

6. Engage High Ranking Members

High ranking members get a lot of comments on any posts they make, and they participate more than other people. With some casual observations, you’ll be able to see who is a leader in a group or even who runs the group. When you do figure out who they are, make it a point to engage with them.

7. Freely Give Advice in Your Area of Expertise

Eventually, you can start offering your own advice when people ask questions. If the industry social site offers webinars, Facebook live videos, Google Hangouts or other “live” events, volunteer to be an expert and share as much as you can with the others about what you know.

8. Get Content Ideas

A really excellent way to take advantage of industry-specific social sites is to use the questions, articles, and other information as ideas for content that you will write or have written for your website.

9. Share, Like, and Congratulate Others

Be sure to take part in activities that don’t involve self-promotion but involves the promotion of others. When you are selfless, people will return the favor when they have something to share too.

10. Become the Go-To Expert

It may take a while, but with enough professional answers and participation on your part, the people in the social site will start to see you as an industry expert and will want to come directly to you for answers. They will also send their friends and family to you.

Participating in industry-specific social sites is something you should take advantage of if you want to grow your business, become known as an expert, and stay ahead of the rest. Differentiating yourself among your peers will help you get more customers, as well as help keep you educated and informed.