Interaction Across Social Media Platforms

I recently received an interesting comment on my 10 Thoughts for Friday post. I mentioned in the post that I respond to invites from people on LinkedIn with a short message asking them to clarify why they’re connecting with me. My wording:

Hi x, 

Thank you for the invitation to connect on LinkedIn! I wanted to check in and see what you were interested in connecting about since I don’t believe we’ve met in person.  

Thank you and take care,

Cristina

Vicki commented on the post and urged me to accept the LinkedIn contacts, stating that “Nearly never will you be connected to by a weirdo – and if you are, it doesn’t reflect on you. LinkedIn is simply about building your network, sharing ideas, and making new business acquaintances…” In contrast, her thoughts were to be more cautious with Facebook and Twitter: “this is where I might use your response, to vet your new connections.” Lastly she said “You want your FB friends to actually be friends (or, I do).”

All of this got me thinking about how different individuals interact across social media platforms, their actions often based on assumptions or past experiences. Although there are very few formal rules governing our social media interactions, people have formed divergent ideas of etiquette- some platform by platform and others about social media as a whole.

Here is how I approach each platform and why:

  • LinkedIn: By now, you know my philosophy on LinkedIn. I accept people I know and follow up with those I don’t know. But there’s a reason that I don’t readily accept everyone: I actually had a weird experience with LinkedIn that changed my perspective a bit. I was added by an individual who was connected to others that I know and trust. Turns out, he wanted me to join his iffy business venture. I don’t think I would have been so trusting if I hadn’t seen that others I knew were connected to him. Hence my reasoning for being more cautious in accepting invites. There are also features on LinkedIn that lend themselves to keeping a curated network. You can ask contacts to connect you to their contacts. If people in the chain don’t know each other in real life, it dilutes the effectiveness of this feature because they are unable to vouch for each other. For more on my LinkedIn philosophy, see my post To Connect or Not to Connect: The Rules of LinkedIn.
  • Twitter: My love affair with Twitter is well-known. I see it as the most open of all the social networks. I welcome any and all follows that are not porn bots 🙂  Unless you have a closed account, you can’t control who follows you, so I don’t think it reflects on you (in contrast to LinkedIn, for example, where you have to make a decision whether to accept or reject a connection). As for who I follow: if I am interested in the content of the tweets, I will follow the person. I see Twitter as more about content than relationships (in contrast again to LinkedIn).
  • Foursquare: I sometimes get requests from strangers on FourSquare, which I decline. I share the check-ins that I want others to see on Twitter, but I prefer only my friends to see some, so I think it’s important to keep this network closed.
  • Facebook: As Vicki said, Facebook is for your real friends. 100% agreed! As I said in my comment to her, I see it as the only place on the internet where I can be my 22 (almost 23!) year old self. One thing that makes it slightly more complicated: Raleigh networking is very casual, so sometimes the line between friend and acquaintance blurs. In the past year, I’ve begun accepting business contacts, which I have mixed feelings about.
  • Pinterest: I’m not sharing anything particularly personal, so I’m flattered when people follow my boards. I follow boards of friends and other people that I stumble upon 🙂
  • Blog: The more the merrier!

Clearly, I approach each social media platform differently. I think it’s important to do so because they all have unique missions and features that make them more fitting for one kind of relationship over another (i.e. LinkedIn provides more value to business relationships than friendships). If I were to approach each platform in the same way, I may as well just be using one, right?

Where do you stand? Why? Do you approach social media as a whole or platform by platform? 

Thank you to Vicki for prompting such an interesting discussion!

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to connect or not to connect: the rules of linkedin

I’ve become really interested in the rules- both written and unwritten- of online networking, especially on LinkedIn. As I use it more and more for my job, I realize how incredibly valuable it can be…if done correctly. But what is “correct” is open to interpretation based on individual preferences, industry, and even generation. But I got myself into a very sticky situation recently (not unsafe but definitely uncomfortable), so I think taking time to think about the rules of online conduct is very important.

So here are some miscellaneous ramblings on my LinkedIn views.

I recently added a note in the “Contact Cristina for” section that says, “Please feel free to contact me here or on Twitter (@cmroman). If we have not yet met in person, please send me a personalized message so that I know why you are interested in connecting. Thank you :)”

I tried to say it in a pleasant way and that was the best I could come up with! I feel horribly pretentious writing this request, but I get a lot of invitations now that I have my new position listed. For some reason, people want to connect with a person in the recruiting department!

So when people I don’t know invite me to connect and they don’t write a personalized message, I can either 1) accept it, 2) ignore it, 3) click “I don’t know this person,” or 4) send them a message.

1) Occasionally, I will accept an invitation from someone I’ve never met IF we share multiple contacts whose judgment I trust.

2) Definitely the route I take at times. Intuition is critical, even (or especially) online.

3) I read an interesting blog post this morning about why not to do this. The writer told of a man who invited a woman, whom he’d met once, to connect and she clicked “I don’t know this person.” It turns out that she just didn’t remember and ended up losing a bid for a project because he was offended by her rejection. I’m torn on this- I think clicking “I don’t know this person” is a bit harsh, but at the same time, they’ve failed to follow the guidelines that I set forth.

4) Today I sent a message to someone who added me saying “Hi {blank}, Thank you for the invitation to connect. Have we met in person recently? Thanks for refreshing my memory, Cristina.” Slightly awkward but necessary, I think.

One tool on LinkedIn that is very valuable- “Get introduced through a connection.” When I was job searching way back when, I used this feature to call upon my network for their help. Most people were more than happy to help because we had “IRL” ( (in real life) relationship.

A commenter on a blog made a great point that adding people you don’t know dilutes your social network and can jeopardize your social equity. If a stranger asks me to vouch for them for a job, I have nothing on which to base my opinion. Thus, my social network becomes less valuable to both me and others. Likewise, if I ask a connection to introduce me to one of their connections, it would be a waste of time for both me and them if they had to respond back that they didn’t in fact know this individual IRL.

proactive vs interactive: which is more valuable?

According to my WordPress stats, someone arrived to my blog by googling “entrepreneuring is about being interactive, not being proactive.” 

I’m really curious about this individual now. Were they looking for a famous quote? Do they believe this and want to find someone who agrees with them?

When asked my best professional quality or the top characteristic that I look for in candidates I’m interviewing, I always say “proactivity.” I wholeheartedly believe that it- along with confidence- is one of the most important traits, especially for entrepreneurs.

My computer’s dictionary says that to be proactive means “creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.”

Without proactivity, I wouldn’t have gotten a job at The Washington Diplomat. I wouldn’t have created GW Bites. My sister and I wouldn’t be in talks with individuals in Raleigh about a co-working space.

Undoubtedly, being interactive is equally as important. I’m the first to speak about the benefits of networking and the importance of fostering community (Community Building Community, The GW Social Enterprise Forum, etc).

I think these values go hand in hand. When I thought more about which one was more important to me, I found that it was nearly impossible for me to separate the two or place one above the other. What are your thoughts? Do you believe that “entrepreneuring is about being interactive, not being proactive”? 

looking for a job? cultivate your network

Entering the workforce in May? Looking for a beneficial internship? Cultivate your network! According to research, about 60% of jobs are filled through networking and informal contacts, not advertising or applications sent to “info@blank.com” addresses.

Asking friends, professors, and mentors for help with your job search allows you to call upon their expertise and connections in a meaningful, personal way. Here are a few tips for asking effectively:

  • Acknowledge that you are asking for their help because you trust their judgment and value their opinions (who wouldn’t be flattered?!)
  • Follow up!  Failing to follow up with someone who helped you can sour a relationship if they feel like they are being used.
  • Use discretion when asking individuals for their help; don’t ask for help from someone you wouldn’t be willing to help in return
  • Make it easy on them: send your resume & areas of interest. I even included a list of companies I was interested in and asked 1) if they knew anyone there and 2) if they knew of similar companies (see screenshot below for my email template!)
  • Use the “Get Introduced” feature on LinkedIn. I happened to know of a girl who worked at a company I wanted to join, so I searched for her on LinkedIn. I saw that we had a friend in common, so I asked him to connect us. Voila- instant connection!

All of this being said, don’t be afraid to take a shot in the dark. You never know unless you ask! When I was a freshmen, I saw a Washington Diplomat golf tournament flyer in an office. I called them and asked if they needed volunteers for the event. The man on the phone asked if I was looking to “rub elbows with ambassadors.” I laughingly admitted that I was. That man became my boss for the year that I interned at the newspaper; in fact, on May 6, I will be working my 4th consecutive golf tournament for them!

Addendum: check out BranchOut, an application that allows you to capitalize on your network of Facebook friend during your job search!