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 ย 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 โ€“ 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 โ€œnumber oneโ€ 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)

110 responses

  1. Thanks Antonio.

    The latest example of someone networking the wrong way is someone claiming to be doing a lot of good for humanity. He is a complete stranger to me and I accepted his invitation to connect on Linkedin a few days ago. He has already asked him to endorse him and find funding for a project he claims to be doing. Told him clearly that wasn't going to happen.

    The irony is that maybe he is the nicest man in the world trying to do a project that will really benefit humanity. But since he networks the wrong way it's unlikely he ever gets any funding, or endorsments for that matter.

  2. Catarina,

    You have highlighted one particular trait of a character.Most networker are not of that stuff.Actually networking, blogging is a recent pheneomena.So normally people are actually shy.And as you said correctly those who wants to runt too fast ,will slip the fastest as they will grow impatient and will die out.
    Interestingly though most of heads of the states in these parts will not like your way of walking up to them & suggest how to handle global economic crisis, or whatever you have impressed the others with. But I like some of your notions though, about Mandella and Mbeki stuff. But thats quite natural. There is always a void whenever you compare great leaders and the next incumbent.Somehow it s always like that Kennedy – Johnson, Clinton – George Bush , Chirac- Sarkozy and so on.
    Actually, Netoworking is yet to come of age as unlike in a homogenous group we tend to get many strangers, whch is sometimes fun, but could be irritating too as you may feel cheated of your valuable time.But the quality is really coming of age as more more savvy people are shaking of their apathy and joining to make the networking a pleasure.


  3. Hi Catarina,

    I couldn't agree with you more that you need to take an interest in what others are interested in, and their view, as much as your own, when networking.

    We recently covered this in discussing the laws (or ought that be "lores") of networking face-to-face at a talk and networking night we had here in London. Many of the principles of that should also be applied to networking online. Please check out the blog from it and let me know your views on't:

    So I guess it ought to be a case of:

    All the Best – and The Best for All!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Matt Miller
    P.S. You need to correct your spelling of the word "lose" in your blog posting – as it, perhaps, has a little bit of an ironic twist to it when spelling it as "loose" next to the word "credibility"!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Catarina,

    This post is very valid, I consider the online social/business networking is more about human advertising and history building more than getting credits out of others.

    Internet is a field to show billions of users who are you and how good are you?

    Interesting blog.

  5. Seems we agree completely Tony. Like your observation that "there aren't people who would write one for them based on what they know". I really think that captures what it's all about.

  6. Hi Catarina,

    I hope you are well…
    Despite your negative NW answer…I follow you on your blog…
    I'm not OK for all your article and be happy you didn't gave me as example…
    But you must know also…NW is for me a "win-win approach and not only unilateral approach…"
    I must also add when you build a NW…Question is about number people accept…but also stay…
    If you want me can book a face to face meeting…So you will know me better…If you plan a trip to Brussels…we would can confirm our NW add strategy…
    Have a nice evening…
    Philippe V

  7. It is very well written note about networking. Mostly true and highlighted the real picture of issues people facing today while networking. I read most of your article and all of them are fantastic. I really admire your communication skill. It is plain, simple and direct.

  8. Hello Catrina,

    I have arrived to your article through a Group discussion posted ( Executive Search Network )

    I have just started to use LinkedIn this year, recommended by many business colleagues and friends, nonetheless I have never understood it as a social network, where you want to network for the sake of an opinion, or getting to know someone with a different or rather interesting point of view on a particular matter, and just getting the excitement of just communicating with another human being, which is great by the way, but perhaps not its primary function…

    The architecture of LinkedIn is clearly focused to market yourself, your experience, your ideas in the best possible way and be part of a big online business community. You leave your job experience, you get recommendations, and surely one looks healthily to connect with other interesting professionals around the world.

    I believe succesful networking doesn´t have to do necessarily with speed or patience, or rather a long-term relationship ( online or offline ). Neither good or not so social skills , but rather with a previous, and to me more important ingredient: which is the initial connecting thread, that is the key for succesful networking. Building a new connection from scratch is very,very difficult.

    Threads can be wide and generic, a friend of a friend, being part of the same business sector, be an expatriate, write articles on the web, play music, be politically active, whatever. We identify very quickly, in matters of seconds, if a new person to know could be interesting or not to pursue further. I would never spend one full year developing a relationship "online" or " offline" without this initial, most important thread quest to capture your interest inmediately.

    I came to your article based on two things. I like the subject of networking, very passionately, and your posted debate subject was well organized and arranged, and besides you have a very appealing web profile+photo. All this took me 15 seconds. Yet reading your article took me longer, and thinking about it, much more,,which was the whole point.

    The next step for succesful networking, if to come to terms if there is really any consistent interest to maintain the relationship for whatever period of time. And I agree with your article on this respect. Clumsiness or impatience is not welcome!! but an open interest todo business Never is!! perhaps he/she was on the wrong debate or group discussion..

    Anyways congratulations on your excellent article!!


  9. Hi Catarina,

    After long time, I found time to read your blog and I really surprised to see this topic in your blog. The reason is, just a day ago, I went to library and borrow one book called 'The Rules of Networking' by Rob Yeung and now I have started reading this book.

    Its really nice to see with loads of valid points mentioned and to some extent I completely agree with you.

    Please do keep posting interesting articles like this and this reader will certainly look to read the same.

    Kind Regards,

  10. Many good points, Catarina – like you, I cannot understand people with whom you've had no dealings at all asking you to recommend them. On what basis can anyone do this? As you say, it completely debases the value of your recommendations overall, as well as all the recommendations, and recommenders, for that person.

  11. This posting is painfully on point. I think that many people are learning the art of social networking. It is complicated by some of the different social norms from people in various parts of the world.

    I have learned from the concept that quality and not quantity matters. In my line of work I have no interest in sending out blast advertisements. That does me no good. To the contrary, my business interests are only advanced by building strong business relationships. Patience does matter. I also agree with you that it is easy to get flooded with far too many emails that render it impossible to get work done.

    I have learned a great deal through our dialogue and hope that you feel the same.

  12. Great article! I may be guilty, not of pushing prematurely for business or recommendations, but of inviting people to connect whom I don't really know. It's because I want so badly to build a network, (not a humongous one), and I was impatient with how long it was taking to accumulate a few dozen connections. Slow and steady will be my motto from now on! — H A L

  13. Excellent insight on networking, well worth sharing as it will give much food for thought. Thanks for writing what many of us were thinking.

  14. Hi Catarina,

    Such an informative points you have post here. Exactly, LinkedIn has attracted the attention of mostly business people because of its professional appeal. We must understand what social media marketing is. This is a form of marketing where we use social media networks.

    My recent post Client Testimonials

  15. Great post Catarina, and you really hit the nail on the head. Like real life friendships, online networking takes time and effort for both parties. The more you put in the more you'll get back, but not necessarily directly. Again, just like real life. Your experiences have obviously been awful – I've been lucky regarding that so far. Your post has def. made me be both a little more on guard as well as try to consider the other person a little more. I think bloggers helping bloggers is a great group for support – finding reciprocation is not always easy. Thanks again.
    My recent post 5 Reasons to Focus on the Visual Content of Pinterest

  16. Catarina: Have you read Dr. Ivan Misner's works on referral marketing? John Jantsch talks about the Know, Like, Trust process and then give and ask for a referral, in his book, The Referral Engine.
    My recent post THE EISENHOWER MATRIX

  17. Good points Pat. Personally think the majority of them are into "fake it until you make it". It's the same people who cut and paste from say HBR and claim it as something they have come up with:-)

  18. Thanks Catarina.

    I believe I am doing everything you say here. The biggest problem for me is the amount of time that is spent building these relationships. I enjoy it, but find that I spend more time in social media than on business building.

    I would love to know how you schedule your week (particularly as you reciprocate to everyone who comments for you) balancing networking and getting actual work done.
    My recent post R U OK?

  19. Nice post, Catarina. i once had a bad experience on LinkedIn when a group member approached me for a 'loan'. I barely knew him and he lived in another country. When I said, I could not lend, he turned back and said, but you work in XYZ, implying that I should lend my hard earned money to a total stranger. Besides who was he to judge about my own personal circumstances?
    Catarina, what do you think about the new 'endorsement of skills' that has popped up on LinkedIn?
    My recent post Strong Roads: A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient Hawaii

  20. We have had this discussion on LinkedIn before. I agree with pretty much everything you said. People either don't understand networking or they just don't care. Some people are just plain takers and out for themselves. Other people are learning and have good intensions. They come around with some guidance. Any way you look at it you have to be very careful when you are networking on the internet. Great Post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I agree with you. Social Media does not give a person permission to act differently then they would in person. I could not or would not recommend someone I don't know. How could I? I would know what I would be recommending. I could or would not ask that of someone I don't know either. It simply doesn't make any since. For me SM has offered me opportunity to meet and get to know some amazing people. That has come for wanting to offer up more or than or same I am willing the get back, but that not why I do it. I do it because I genuinely want the help people and get to know more liked minded people like myself.

    I agree with Cheryl there are takers and givers. The givers give first. The takers ask what you can do for them first. I prefer to give first and see where that takes me.

    This really got me revved up and thinking… great post Catarina. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post An Assumption, a Dog & A Rabbit: Story

  22. Time and again, I'm sure we've all had the experience of encountering someone online and then almost immediately receiving invites to EVERY social networking platfrom that person belongs to. I think this tendency partially depends on the person's age. High school students add "friend" left and right on FB without a second thought. As usual, this makes the educator in me wonder when school systems will get better at addressing media literacy.
    My recent post JeriWB Writes: Lost Girl Road Update #5

  23. Networking is hard. Sometimes people are so pressed, they don't make good choices in how to present themselves. I noticed that all three of your examples are men; perhaps women are a bit better naturally at socialization, although of course, that is a great generalization.

    Everything takes time – I'm afraid, however, that those who need to read your post probably will not. But they will be saying, "But I tried LinkedIn."
    My recent post Top Five Industries to Start a New Business

  24. Hi Catarina,
    You already know that I am in complete agreement with you that the real benefit to using social media is in building mutually beneficial relationships. It's mind boggling that the simple act of accepting a connection gives that person permission to ask for recommendations, jobs, money etc. It's no different from being approached by a pan-handler on the street.

    The one thing that I stress time and time again is that everything we do is either a relationship builder or a relationship destroyer. People need to keep that in mind online as well as in person.

    Thanks for another well written article.

  25. Thanks, Catarina, very interesting topic. However, I had different experiences even at the FB level. I receive requests from people to accept them as friends on FB; since am a little bit polite, and would not reject people, I start by clicking on the requesters name to see his/her profile and to learn more about my new would-be friends. Astonishingly, I only get their names and the year they were born and a very embarassing MESSAGE: "… only share their information with friends." Imagine how cold my face would feel and idiot I'd look in my own eyes ๐Ÿ™‚ Needless tay that I do not accept them as friends on FB. What kind of message would you send to such people who ask for your "electronic friendship" but decline to release any data about who they are? Cheers

  26. Through social media definitely we can develop a good long term relationship with others.we get a good results in it.thanks for sharing this post..its really useful to know more about on social media..

  27. Great article Catarina! (As usual) I do enjoy reading your articles! I do agree with your points of view and how intelligent your writing is! Take care!

  28. I very much agree with what you have written. Any relationship, whether online or offline has to be a two way relationship to be worthwhile, or even to survive.

    I will only connect with people who I already know or who interest me for some reason or another. I don't make connections just for the sake of making connections. I also try to connect with people that I can help in some way or another. I ask myself "What can I give?" By giving I gain far more than I would if I where making connections for what I could get out of it.

    For me it's all about having the right attitude towards people.
    My recent post Locksmithing by the Sea (Eastbourne Area)

  29. I haven't tried the networking using LinkedIn yet but I guess like you said — don't recommend strangers as you lose credibility is good advice. Thanks for the write-up!
    My recent post How to get Approved for a Bad Credit Home Loan

  30. Great insight, too often the immediacy of the computer world lends itself to those who want it all now. With as fast as technology changes we come to feel that everything else in life should be as fast. Thank you for this post, it is a well spoken reminder that relationships take time and require tending to blossom.

  31. This is very timely for me Catarina! Don't know why, but some guy has been chasing me around social media, all kinds… wanting me to sell his book, review his book, recommend his book. It's so offensive! So intrusive, so rude… and I can't understand HOW they don't know this!!!! But what always comes to mind, is I wonder how they would like it if they were approached in the same manner?
    My recent post Social Media Becomes Big Brother… Where’s The Justice?

  32. I wish more people online followed your guidelines. Social media offers wonderful opportunities to connect with a wide range of people across the world, but it’s a shame some people forget basic decency and respect. Those can make the rest of us wary and suspicious of new connections. As in face-to-face contact, it takes time to get to know someone. Most people wouldn’t think of walking up to a stranger on a bus and asking for an endorsement. Why they think it is okay to do that online is beyond me.

  33. Great post, Catarina! I just don’t understand people who ask for recommendations from me when I don’t know them or the product or idea they are pushing. You can’t tell people like that that you wouldn’t do it in person and so won’t online, because they probably do it in person too. Connecting is a delicate and interesting process.

  34. Some great insights here. I have been guilty of the basic invitation to connect on Linked In. Usually after I've read an article or something that makes me feel the person would be interesting to follow. On the other hand I don't like to be rude but don't want to connect to people I know nothing about. I find it hard to believe that people would send you their CV and demand you get them a job. But I know editors have talked about having manuscripts shoved under their washroom stall. I seriously can't understand the mentality of these people. Do they seriously think anyone will want to work with them when they do such things.
    My recent post Because Everyone Needs A Little Fantasy

  35. This post really got me revved up. I couldn't agree with you more. SM can undercover who you really are pretty quickly if your not careful. That said, one should always act and be yourself. Recommending someone I don't know is just plain silly. I would always want to know the person I'm recommending. SM in general has offered me a great opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people, you being one. The relationships I've build over time on SM are a direct result of giving first, being kind and offering support when I can. That has lead me to get to know some great liked minded people. Just my thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post Good Cup Of Coffee: #Beverage

  36. That is amazing that someone would leave an entire CV as a comment. What were they thinking. As far as approaches to success go that rates pretty poorly. I have disconnected many people from my social media families for these very reasons. You are right, act as you would in the real world. Social media is simply a bolier plate of life; not a reason to be someone else less appealing.
    My recent post Indonesia and Me

  37. Ahhh… Catarina. I cannot agree with you more. Those people you describe somehow cannot grasp the idea of how things work. Then they get upset with you for not allowing them to be inappropriate in their contact with you. Big sigh….

  38. Well said! I've gotten so many strange LinkedIn messages lately that I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow sent out an invitation. You remind me that common sense is not that common. I have no idea why people behave so strangely online. Whether you are talking about marketing, branding or networking, the rules don't disappear just because the tools is different. I've met some amazing people through LinkedIn (yourself included) but I've never felt compelled to ask anyone for a job or even to become my BFF. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. 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!
    My recent post award winning author

  40. 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!
    My recent post Smart Introvert Number One Rule

  41. 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.

  42. Catarina, I network in spurts. I also tend to try to involve people in a conversation and ask questions. People like to talk about themselves, so this works well!

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

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