Social Networking. That seems to be the term of the decade. Everywhere you go, it’s Web 2.0 this, social networking that, Linked In this, Facebook that. Who would have imagined back in the day that social forums would evolve into professional networking opportunities?

I teach a few webinars that focus on not only Linked In, but also social networking to its core. One of the features I read and take advantage of often is the Answers section of Linked In and Yahoo. By answering questions and giving my advice, I seem to draw a lot of people who ask to network with me.  An avid user an fan of Linked In, I am cautious about how and with whom I network and connect.  Daily, I get invitations to connect.  Despite the fact that I have clearly mentioned on many occasions that I prefer people send a note asking to connect and making it personal (ie: an introduction), and that I always take the time to send a personalized note letting a person know how I found them and my reason for asking to connect, this is what I still manage to get from people:

Adrienne,

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

It drives me nuts!  It’s as if they haven’t even read my profile.  Recently I received the same generic note from a young man .  I politely responded back to him my preference for contacting and connecting with me and asked him to a least introduce himself.  He replied back that he was sorry I didn’t see anything in his PROFILE that would make me want to connect.  I was taken aback.  So not only did he not honor my request, he STILL didn’t even take the time to introduce himself and tell me how he’d like to network with me.  But he was upset.  It left me scratching my head.

I tell this story to illustrate a point.  When you are stepping into a social networking situation, it’s not like being on Myspace, Facebook, Blackplanet or any other social networking site for pleasure.  When you join a professional networking site, you must have a different approach and mindset than you would with the above mentioned networks.  You cannot assume that people will take the time to read your profile if you didn’t put any thought into introducing yourself properly or abide by their wishes.  The rules of engagement are simple.  Do your research.  Read a person’s profile and see if there are any specific request about how to contact them.  Make sure the person wants to be contacted, and what their preferences are (if you are a pet lover who wants to share an event for your pet, you wouldn’t contact someone who doesn’t own a pet).  Do NOT EVER send cookie cutter or standard template messages.  That will turn a person off immediately.  I know it turns me off.  Take the time to properly introduce yourself, indicate why you are contacting them, and offer to discuss any possible synergies.

Building networking relationships takes work.  Building networking relationships ONLINE takes not only work, but also the proper etiquette.  The people you reach out to cannot see you.  So you have to be extra diligent about presenting the proper first impression.

The next webinar will be held on Saturday, April 26th.  Please be sure to visit the website for more details.

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

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