Editor’s note: This was contributed by Abe Sorock. His firm, Atlas China, supports business leaders and entrepreneurs in their China staffing and growth, including both major multinational companies like Merck and the NBA as well as fast-growing technology companies. Connect with Abe on LinkedIn or add abesorock on WeChat.
China-based professionals know how central WeChat is to business and life here. What we see shared on WeChat determines how we spend our time, the people we associate with, the events we attend, and our sense of what’s going on around us.
WeChat isn’t a digital tool for us, but rather a digital extension of us: it situates each individual in a dynamic digital world of information based on our real-world social connections. You must control your WeChat world or it will control you.
My goal with this article is to get you to recognize and exercise your power to change your WeChat world so you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t want in your life.
You’re already on WeChat between 1-4 hours a day if you’re a normal user, so it’s worth taking 20 minutes to get more real-world value from it forever. You’ll be able to:
- Reach out to the right people at the right time.
- Learn about more interesting things going on in your city.
- Reduce your message stress.
- Strengthen relationships with people who are important to you; and
- Develop as a leader.
I’ll share some best practices you can implement in WeChat as you read along and benefit from immediately.
1. Create useful tags for your contacts
Tagging contacts helps you to reach out to close friends or people you know share interests or a geographic location. Once you’ve set up tags it’s easier to reach out in useful ways, like when you’re traveling to a city, organizing an event, or writing an article. If you have a VIP tag, you can send a quick note when you have 5 minutes in a cab. You can also share WeChat Moments based on the tags your contacts have.
2. Find your way into – or start – great groups
Thanks to the way people share events, parties, information, and opportunities, the groups you’re in determine your experience of a city. Groups drive the online-offline (O2O) loop: you show up in person to events you learn about in the group and exchange WeChats with people you meet there.
This means you need to be part of the right groups and there’s no way to do that without an invitation from a group member or starting the group yourself. Ask people you like regularly if they’re in any good WeChat groups. Starting a group is an excellent way to meet people and lead.
3. Get out of groups that aren’t useful
Leave groups that aren’t adding value to your life. Just turning off notifications isn’t enough because the group will keep showing up. If you aren’t sure whether something is worth your attention, you downgrade every new piece of input you get on WeChat. This is very expensive and important to avoid. Can you think of any groups you should leave right now?
4. Make your Moments work for you
The first step is to block people’s Moments if you’re not interested in what they post. After weeks of blocking a few a day, my Moments feed is all great events, opportunities, people who I really care about and want to see how they’re doing, and other interesting news and information from people I trust and respect.
If you still follow someone’s Moments after cleaning house, likes and comments let you share your interest in a way that the poster is almost sure to see. If someone can see you’re thinking about them, they might ping you back to extend an invitation, share an opportunity or start a conversation that enriches your relationship.
5. Post Moments that engage and activate your network
One of the first things people look at when you become contacts is what you’ve shared on WeChat Moments. If you post about events you like, things you’re working on, or questions for your circle, people can see what you care about and how they can support you. Then if they share those interests or can help, you have great grounds to build a relationship.
It’s easy to post a value added moment that will interest your contacts and potentially spark a conversation or shared experience. If you’re excited about an event, share it. If you want to try a new restaurant or are headed to a scenic spot and want to see who can come, share it. If you’re reading a good book or article, share a screenshot and link.
Online-Offline (O2O) Loops
WeChat shows you content from your online connections that influence where you go and what you do in the real world. The connections you meet offline at these events and bring online by adding their WeChat, then share with you new content and the loop continues.
It’s never been more valuable to connect with like-minded people because of the depth of engagement WeChat enables. Offer to add people to groups that you think they would enjoy. Find and share events on Moments. Create a group around a topic that you and others are interested in – then start running in-person meetups. You’ll find changes that start on WeChat have a powerful effect on your real-world life.