One of the things that has fascinated me about social media lately is the mirror that it holds up to our behavior in specific situations. Each site has its own purpose, its own sense of etiquette.
While I use Facebook a bit for my business (and have been getting quite a few requests for work from it, actually), it’s really become more of a personal outlet for me to share links, bits of fun, etc. with my friends and family. Twitter is for quick thoughts, status updates, and link sharing with my personal and professional network, and for getting answers when I’m stuck on a blog post, or a sticky Drupal/Wordpress problem.
LinkedIn is strictly professional. As I start moving towards the next stage of my career, I’ve started looking at it more, seeing if there are folks in my network who might know the people I want to meet at different agencies and studios. But there’s an etiquette to making the request. If I haven’t talked to someone in a while, I’ll start the conversation by asking how the person is doing, and engaging with them a bit before telling them what I’m up to and asking for the connection.
A couple of days ago, I got a LinkedIn message from a connection I hadn’t talked to in over a year – who Linked with me after the first time I met him and started sending me pitches for his coaching services almost immediately after we connected. After I unsubscribed from his newsletter, I had forgotten about the LinkedIn connection, until I received this message (paraphrased):
“Who do you know who works with a company that hires coaches? Thanks for any connections you can make.”
That was it. No “hey Dani, how have you been? I know it’s been a while.” I don’t even know if it was sent specifically to me, or was blasted to all of his connections. My response? I went into LinkedIn and removed him from my connections. And then I wrote this article.
The lesson here is simple: being online makes it easier to network, but it doesn’t change the basic rules of etiquette. If you want something from someone else, you have to show an interest in them first. You wouldn’t ask someone you just met at a cocktail party to give you a job, so why would you do the same to someone that you barely speak to online?