[Stephanie Ward is a fellow Oklahoman, who happens to now reside in The Netherlands. She’s been a good friend and coach, and I’m proud to offer this guest post from her. – Becky]
By Stephanie Ward
Everyone has an opinion about social networking and you’ll find a great disparity among people on what you should do, and should not do.
The thing is, you are connecting with real people so why not treat them that way? It just takes a bit of attention and hardly any extra time.
Before we get into the ‘5 don’ts’ when connecting on social networks I want to give you a general overview of how three social networking platforms work.
You can follow anyone you want on Twitter, whether you know them or not. People don’t have to give you permission to follow them. If they want to follow you back that’s up to them.
You can ask people you don’t know to be friends on Facebook, from complete strangers to friends of your friends. But in order to be connected, the person has to accept your request.
LinkedIn is based on connecting with people you actually know. You can request to be introduced to people you don’t know from people who are in your network who know the person you want to connect with. More about this here: http://bit.ly/hoQoU0.
Now, with that in mind here are 5 things to avoid when connecting on social networks:
1. Don’t invite someone to connect with you on Facebook or LinkedIn without including a personal note. Maybe you didn’t know that was possible, but now since you do – include one. On Facebook if you don’t know the person, share the reason why you want to connect in your personal note. On LinkedIn, remind the person how you know each other or where you met.
2. Don’t send an invitation to someone you don’t know on LinkedIn. There is an option that allows you to send an invitation if you don’t have someone’s e-mail address by saying you worked with them in the past. But if you haven’t, that’s not cool.
3. Don’t set up an automatic Direct Message (DM) to be sent to people who follow you on Twitter (a lot of people disagree with me about this). [Note: Stephanie is right: auto DMs are impersonal and can be annoying. For example, when I follow several people in one sitting, I get bombarded by these automated messages. You don’t want to be annoying. -Becky]
4. Don’t forget to actively promote your social network profiles so that people can connect with you. Promote your profiles: on your business card, on your website, in your ezines, in your e-mail signature, etc.
5. Don’t forget to thank people who connect with you. On Facebook and LinkedIn you can send a private message via the platforms. On Facebook you can write thank you on someone’s wall. Or you can reply to the ‘request to connect e-mail’ and say thank you that way. On Twitter you can send a personalized DM to say thanks for the follow. If you do choose to use an automatic DM, please just say thanks for the follow and don’t promote your business or include links to things.
So why bother, what’s the big deal about making your invitations personal and saying thank you in a meaningful way? Building relationships on any platform takes time and by interacting personally you will be able to develop deeper ties with the people you’re connected with.
Just because social platforms are virtual doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be human in the way you interact with people. People tend to remember personal encounters and forget the anonymous ones. And, if you make it personal, people are more likely to accept your invitations.
With a tiny bit of time and effort you can make connecting with people online a more personal experience. It’s the little things that matter and make a big difference. So start making a difference today by relating to your new connections on social networks in a personal way.
Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to set their profits on fire! Grab your FREE copy of the special report ‘7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at: http://www.fireflycoaching.com.
© Stephanie Ward, 2011
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.