I keep hearing about a problem on social media, so I sat down to write this post to help both those suffering from repeated requests for “favors”, and those who make them. It’s perhaps not the “help” those making the requests were asking for, but it should help them. Please do take this unsolicited advice in the spirit of future success and friendships, both online and offline.
First of all, let’s think of social media as a big cocktail party. There are all kinds of people there, but of course you’d like to get noticed by the movers and shakers, the influencers. With this in mind, who would you send to represent your company? You wouldn’t send an intern straight out of college, would you?
I hope you’d want to put on your best outfit and your game face, think about your strategy for interacting with new, important people and get out there yourself.
Secondly, let’s talk about cocktail party etiquette. We’ve all been to parties where that person goes on and on about themselves, talking about all the things that they think make them fascinating and interesting. These “party goers” never even let another person get a word in edgewise, let alone start an actual conversation. Sadly, they rarely understand why they become social pariahs, when all they’d need to do is show some interest in other people. Your intern might be “that guy”. Make sure your social media channels show an experienced diplomat who engages everyone at the party, making sure to ask about their business, passions and interests and then connecting them with other like-minded people.
Last, but not least, social media is all about collaborating. It’s true what they say: There’s no such thing as a free lunch!
Only a novice would go to a cocktail party, approach a lawyer in the room and start asking for free advice about the legal issue they have with a vendor.
Not only would they find themselves alone at the end of the night, they’d never see another invitation from the host.
I love connecting with people on social media, especially when they want to build a relationship and share real experiences, information and wisdom. I say this all the time, and I truly mean it: #SocialMedia is all about collaborating and cultivating relationships, just like you would in any real-life situation. So before you get in touch with anyone on social media, please think about the cocktail party metaphor, and if you can’t be the belle of the ball, at the very least do your best to be a gracious and interesting guest.