Putting The “Social” And The “Networking” Back in Social Networking

Hey I Just Met You And This Is Crazy….

Imagine that you are out and about in the city. You see a group standing around outside talking and someone tells you that they are online entrepreneurs . You just happen to be an online entrepreneur yourself, so you head over and introduce yourself.

You think “ Hey these guys could be great connections, I would love to get to know some of them.” You tell them your name, but instead of starting a valuable conversation where you learn why they are in business, how long they have been in business, and what they love about it, you get a promotion fest.

“Hey you should download my PDF on marketing.” “You need to be following me on Facebook and Twitter.” And even worse, “You must buy my course, it will rock your world.” Wait a minute I don’t know or trust you yet. I don’t know if you have been successful at what you do or if you are a good person.

Crazy right. We would not tolerate this kind of pushy behavior for long in person, so why do we think it is ok on social media? Because we forget that there is a person behind that computer or smart device. We forget that there is a person who does not know or trust us yet, a person that needs some connection, a person that needs to see the human behind our brand.

Why The Rant?

It all started when I recently began focusing on growing my Twitter following. It was fun for a couple of days and then chaos ensued. I became bombarded with messages and tweets like “Hey @lorihil follow me here.” “Like this page.” “Visit here, download this, buy this, follow us here and here too.” I could hardly keep up with the amount of messages I received like this everyday. And the truth, I had no desire to. My reaction was “Whoa, we just met why should I trust you or follow you all around the web?”

Then Came The Realization

We are taking this “It’s all about me” mentality to a whole new level on social media and quite frankly- it’s irritating. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in supporting each other online. I even believe in promoting your own content.

But, it’s how and when we do it that matters. Are we seeking to offer value or just get something for ourselves? There are a lot of people someone could follow on social media, so when someone follows you it’s an honor. We need to respect that. When I follow someone on Twitter I would like to think that they have some value to offer. That I will learn the “why” behind what they do in business and life. That I will see their story and know where they have been and where they are going.

I believe in social connection. But, what I do not believe in is expecting others to support and trust me when I have offered nothing and have not even been courteous enough to start a conversation. You know those dreaded automated direct messages on Twitter? I am actually not against them.

I personally could not message everyone that follows me, but I use those DMs to start a conversation by asking a question. I received a message from one new follower after receiving my DM. He said “Please don’t try to sell me anything.” I quickly messaged him back and said, “I wasn’t planning on it.” His response, “Good you’re not a bot!” The conversation was up and running.

Humanize Your Brand

People don’t want to talk to a robot. Whether in person networking or online people want conversation and connection. It’s ok to sell your stuff. We all want to make a living and support our families, but let’s see if we can do it in a more genuine and authentic way. Nobody is perfect and if you are getting a lot of followers you may not be able to respond to everyone. But, let’s see if we can offer more value than we seek to take.

Hey, I just met you so stop trying to have me buy, visit, add you on such and such a network. Let’s get to know each other a little first. Give me a chance to see you and your brand for the value it has to offer me as a potential customer and follower.

In time, If I like what you are saying and doing, I will follow you around the web. I will support you and share your stuff. I will download your PDFs and connect with you across platforms. And that is the beauty of connection.