How do you network on social media?

Do you ask strangers to recommend you? Get you a job? Send you money? If you are, your online networking  is bound to be a failure. But still an abundance of members of social media behave like that. Cannot understand why they are trying to get people to do what they would not do?

Never, ever forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

Never, ever, forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

Don’t they understand that that’s not what networking is all about? Simply cannot understand why so many people are trying to jump the gun like that? They only annoy people and make sure their new connections don’t want to have anything to do with them again. Even remove them as connections.

Why do people ruin their reputation?

Don’t know how many times I have started a discussion on Linkedin only for members of the group to comment by pitching for business, even leaving their contact details. One man actually posted his CV as a comment in a discussion on branding for success. Would have understood if it was a discussion about jobs, but branding? On top of it he was nothing to write home about. He desperately needed branding, but obviously didn’t realize that.

Don’t ask for a job

Recently got a message on Linkedin from a man saying I could get him a job in marketing and demanding I did so. Just removed him from my connection and marked his message as spam. Have even written at the bottom of my Linkedin profile that I am not in recruitment and cannot get anyone a job. But that doesn’t seem to stop all individuals.

Another bad side effect is that once you accept their invitation to connect they start spamming you with newsletters and all kinds of other un-solicited offers. Never ever sent newsletters to people who have not asked you to do so. If you do, your mail will be sent to the junk folder and if enough people do so your email address will be classified as junk.

Behave like you do in real life

Have had considerable success in networking in real life. Leaders all over the world have agreed to do what I wanted them to do – sometimes even on the spot. But if I had demanded something I would have failed.

Another important aspect is to not send the standard invitation to connect i.e. “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Make it personal and explain why you want to connect. Have started clicking ignore on most “I’d like to add..” invitations I get for the simple reason that many of them are spammers.

Build long term relationships

Successful networking is in most cases about building up a long term relationship. If you are not prepared to do so, don’t network. One lawyer who sent me an invite to connect immediately asked me to recommend him to my connections. When I told him that wasn’t possible since I don’t know him he got upset and said connecting on Linkedin was all about getting more business. Not only are people like that annoying, how can they respect someone who actually recommend them when they haven’t even met? Only a person with no judgement whatsoever would be stupid enough to recommend a stranger. Am sure such people actually laugh when strangers recommend them.

Want to lose credibility – recommend strangers!

If you recommend, or endorse, strangers online you will lose credibility, people will lose respect for you and I actually believe your business friends will start avoiding you since you will be not be regarded as a serious person.

It works two ways

To try and network swiftly is in most cases impossible and actually gives networking a bad name, which is a shame. How you connect will have a huge impact on building a relationship. But too many people are so much in a hurry they forget to take the other person into account. Pity, because they really shoot themselves in the foot by looking after “number one” the way they do.

But then again, some people really go too far when it comes to building up relationships with people they connect with online. Am really pleased about how many people want to connect with me because of my international blog you are now readding. But far too many start writing long daily e-mails to me and expect the same from me in return, which unfortunately is simply impossible since it would be a full time job. Again, all they think about is what they want without even wondering how many people have the time to exchange e-mails like that with strangers. Pity because it means the wonderful success of my blog has a negative side to it that wouldn’t exist if people understood how to network.

Don’t push

You can get fantastic results from networking if you have patience to do it properly. In real life you agree with the person you approach at an event that you will contact him/her. You contact them, they remember you and decide if it’s in their interest you to cooperate with you. If you try to push them you will fail. So why should networking online be any different?

As far as I’m concerned networking online is building up long term online relationships with interesting people. The more the merrier and discussing with people from every corner of the world is not only fascinating but you also learn a lot. And that’s what life, and networking, is all about. Breathing down people’s necks to get a job or more business is a nuisance that simply doesn’t work.

People observe you online and in the future some of your connections may deliver jackpot. Much more than you ever bargained for. But not if you try to make them do all kinds of things for you before they have even made up their mind about you, much less decided you are worth while. Be professional, show respect and don’t ask others to do what you would not do for them and networking online may become a very positive experience for you. And never, ever, forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

(Photo: Blaine Stiger, Photoxpress)

111 responses

  1. Wow, Catarina! Considering this post is 5 years old, it's amazing how you are still generating interest in it. Well done.

    I completely agree about people asking for recommendations from people they hardly know (if at all.) That's why I'm hesitant to connect with people that I really don't know. I believe in encountering people first via groups, and if their comments make sense to you and you feel the connection is worthy, then proceed to make that personal connection. Cheers!
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  2. You had me smiling when you were talking about networking quickly. If you think about the metaphor often made between networking and sales, and farming, I cannot think of anything worthwhile from a farm that grew overnight. The kind of situations you describe Catarina, happen all the time on LinkedIn. And when it happens to me I am always in wonder: WHAT? I ask myself. Is this person new to networking – giving them the benefit of that. Or are they that aggressive – some are. Or did they never learn good manners at a basic level. Maybe social media just makes it SEEM it's okay to do?

    What is the answer because if we knew the why, maybe we could either better address it, or let someone who can do so.

    Always, good stuff here!
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  3. There's something about being online that makes people act in a way that they would be embarrassed to do face-to-face. Suddenly they feel free to be be pushy, demanding, obtrusive and totally self-absorbed. I think they have a sense of entitlement that makes them blind to how others are going to see their actions.

  4. What a great article, very informative.

    We forget sometimes that business relationships are like other relationships. If you want to succeed in a career, proceed with social media as you would in life with people.

  5. Hello Catarina

    This is very informative post. Every day many are getting emails and messages from people asking for jobs , money or recommendation. I believe when anyone checks a profile and get to know that the person is in good position, feel may be he/she can get a help. Surely, this is not the right way. The result for asking a favor like this will be exactly same that you have done.
    There are certain rules and limits in online connections, I feel we must respect and follow them.

  6. Great article Catarina!

    I in fact did ask people I didn’t personally know to “rate” me once, by accident. I was trying out a software which was supposed to send the request only to the people I choose, but instead it sent it everywhere. That was really embarrassing, and what I learned was to keep away from stuff like that altogether.

    • Presumably that was the service a lot of Linkedin users tried years ago, Eve. Personally got really pissed off when strangers send me messages asking me to rate them. Removed them from my connections. If I'm not mistaken those services are not being used anymore (?).

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