You'll read a whole bunch of different perspectives online about what you should and should not be doing when it comes to Social Media.
I'm a big believer in doing what works best for you and ignoring what most of the Digerati think. Seth Godin often says, "your mileage may vary," while Chris Brogan is always smart with his, "you're doing it wrong," Blog posts. Still, there are some pretty obvious faux-pas that take place online and - for the most post - I think this happens because individuals feel like there are less ramifications if they're hiding behind a keyboard or a smartphone than if they were standing face-to-face with you.
It's a bit of a trick... but it works.
The easiest way to improve the on-ramp success of your Social Media efforts is to always imagine that the person you're connecting with is standing right in front of you. Think about it this way, if the person were standing there - right in front of your face, would you...
- Cover your face? Imagine speaking to someone but they kept their identity unknown. How awkward would that be? Show your face... post a real (and recent) photo of yourself.
- Use a fake name? Do you think you're going to build trust with someone if the other person is using a nickname, fake name or the name of the company they work for? Imagine someone asking, "what's your name?" and the response back from the person is, "my name is Local Marketing Guru!"
- Give your business card to everyone? Does anyone like the person at the local chamber of commerce event who runs around the room throwing out their business cards as if they are ninja stars? It's not important to connect to as many people as possible in one shot... it's much more important to connect to the right people by taking your time and really getting to know people.
- Be so pushy? Someone just asked to connect to me on LinkedIn. The second I accepted the request, I was immediately emailed a very long sales pitch email about what they sell and how I could buy it. On top of that, the email included a two-meg attachment PDF brochure. This is the in-person equivalent of walking up to someone, introducing yourself and not letting them get a word in edge-wise as you suddenly begin to ramble through a twenty-minute sales presentation without their permission.
- Call them out in public? I see this a lot on Twitter. People are loosely connected and then one person calls the merits of the other individual's online activities out in public. Can you imagine being in a small circle of people you just met (or sort of know) at an event, when someone turns to the entire group and says, "you see this person standing in front of you? I heard them speak before the event and I think they're completely stupid?" That would never happen in person... why do it online?
- Ask them to do something for you without really knowing them? The next time you're at an event, turn to the person you just met and ask them if they would mind writing a reference letter for you. How did that go? I'm amazed at how quickly individuals will ask for something of value (for themselves) from someone they do not know without giving first. There's nothing wrong with asking for help, but the way you ask for help that returns a more positive result is by giving first. By being valuable to others before asking them for favors. By giving abundantly and being helpful.
I'm being a Social Media jerk... or snob.
I'm sure some of the comments below will attempt to turn me into some kind of snob or jerk. The truth is simply this: I do my best to connect and build my online relationships the same way I do when I'm not online. My way of building a professional network may be different from yours. Your mileage may vary (as Seth would say). I may, in fact, be doing it wrong (as Chris would say).
What do you say?