New to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? In this cyberspace, where “friend” is a verb (as in “Mary is friending you,”) there are ways to make networking seem more natural.
When you are asking someone to join your circle (called “friending” in Facebook and “connecting” on LinkedIn, you create a list of contacts and the program sends an automatic invitation. You can add a personal message. In fact, you should.
I’ve received a number of letters that leave me confused. “John Doe wants to friend you. Before he can see your profile, please tell us you know John.” I may know John, but I’m not remembering him or placing him in context. To me, at that moment, he is a blank.
If you’ve lived long enough to be a functioning adult, you know hundreds of people in former jobs, volunteer events, high school, college, graduate school, choir, 10K runs, and charity auctions. The names and identities don’t always connect quickly.
The same people who ask to connect with me would never behave that way in person. And to make cyber networking easier, act as you would in real life. Attach a personal message with your notice. “We met at the half marathon in Santa Barbara and discussed running shoes before the event. I’d like to put you on my LinkedIn networking list.” Giving the other person a hint about your identity and how you know each other is not only polite, it makes for a more likely positive response.
If it is a business connection, add a sentence about your business connection, even if your last met socially. “I’m the non-fiction writer specializing in creativity, we met at the writer’s conference” tells the recipient a lot about you, including that you are thoughtful.
I’ve never felt comfortable with people who come up to me at an event and say, “Do you remember me?” I’m one of those unfortunate people who wouldn’t recognize my best friend if I met her out of context–at the grocery store, for example. When confronted by “Do you remember me?” I am always tempted to say, “Why should I?” But, of course, I don’t. I say, “Of course I do, but I can’t remember your name!” And hope she tells me.
The advantage of adding information to your request for cyber-networking is that you are sparing yourself a senseless additional exhchange of emails, or worse, connecting with people you don’t know.
Keep it short, give detailed information, and give the person a reason to agree to be linked to you. Cyber networking doesn’t have to be lonely.
—Image: Elizabeth Perry draws every day. See her blog here: http://www.elizabethperry.com/woolgathering/2008/03/
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach who is on Facebook and is learning to Twitter. Slowly. She has had a website, QuinnCreative, for nine years.