Career/Climbing The Ladder

How To Network On Instagram (Without Being Obnoxious)

By | Tuesday, January 26, 2021

 Once a social app intended strictly for photo sharing, Instagram has evolved into a marketplace for business, too…

In today’s digital age, most networking is happening virtually. The pandemic accelerated the behavior of our already digitized workforce, moving the day-to-day of many workplaces completely remote. This means the culture of networking has shifted too, with most large-scale events pivoting to Zoom in 2020. Global online content consumption as a whole actually doubled last year, with people spending less time away from their devices and passing more time on social media, reading news websites and streaming Netflix

While building authentic relationships online was important before, it’s a necessity now. Opportunities to connect at work, parties and networking events have been swapped for LinkedIn, FaceTime and of course, Instagram. 

And while each platform has its own purpose, Instagram serves a particularly interesting and unique one. Once a strictly social app meant for sharing photos with people in your network, it has evolved into a marketplace for business too. Sponsored ads and shopping features have completely changed the user experience, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to market their business seamlessly. This has its downsides too, but for many of us, completely ignoring the app would mean turning down coveted chances to network effectively.

Instagram doesn’t just provide business opportunities for influencers it’s also a tool anyone can use to further their career, establish an online presence and/or find a supportive community. But there’s a special cocktail of how-tos involved in doing this tastefully: being genuine and thoughtful in your approach are some key considerations. Keep reading for tips on how to network on Instagram. 

1. Build a Strategic Network 

The first step to networking on the ‘gram is surrounding your virtual self with like-minded people. Building an online community of folks who have similar interests and aspirations will curate your feed to become a natural place for you to connect. Start by following accounts similar to yours, finding them through hashtags or the Explore page. The more in sync your content is with those you follow, the more likely they are to follow back.

Personally, I’ve found that with the current restrictions keeping us isolated, people are consistently more open to the idea of building both professional and business relationships on social media. Even a couple of Instagram story responses here and there have been enough for me to start up a new connection. 

2. Connect Through Instagram Pods

Another way to grow your network is with the help of others who are looking to do the same thing. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, Instagram Pods are engagement-driven groups of about 15-20 people in a similar industry to you. The users in a pod “cluster together in group chats or forums where users indicate to the rest of the group that they have just posted a photo or video on Instagram.” While each pod may have its own rules, they have a common goal of elevating each member’s content to be more visible on the app. 

3. Share the Love 

If a pod seems too structured, you can always do a similar service for others by promoting similar accounts or businesses you love via your own profile. Just like any kind of relationship, the ones you build online require both give and take, and supporting others by sharing testimonials or commenting on posts are some great ways to give other accounts more visibility on Instagram’s increasingly finicky algorithm. Contributing to your community in this way will also up the chances that the favor might be returned, and can help you build relationships with other account owners organically.

4. Slide Into Their DMs With Purpose 

Planning to message a stranger directly? Make sure you take the time to understand that person’s feed first. If you are looking for a partnership, for example, the message recipient needs to know that you truly understand and appreciate what they’re doing, and why you care. Ensure your message is original and well-thought-out; no one wants to respond to a DM that reads like spam. 

5. Serve the Community You Want to Build

A key element to successfully building an online community is through posting your own authentic, consistent content. Serve the network you want to build, and you’ll attract an organic following. If you are a freelance content creator looking to meet clients, for example, you could start posting about content marketing. Or maybe you love skincare and want to build a network of people who do too, so curate your own posts around that topic! 


While not all virtual connections will happen organically, making your profile attractive to like-minded people can help establish your online presence and build a genuine community. Gone are the days when Instagram was used simply for socializing; it’s now a powerful networking tool that everyone should consider tapping into. 

Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen, and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb

Image via Unsplash

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