Lately I’ve been walking on the trails in a nearby park. That’s where I met the little fellow to the left.
While it’s okay to meet a squirrel in the park, you don’t want to meet one on social media. Yet some social media connections seem downright squirrelly.
In this post I’ll provide four tips on how you can use social media to make the right type of connections.
Tip 1: Introduce Yourself
So often we just follow or friend someone and expect that it means something. But a random follow doesn’t equal a meaningful connection.
LinkedIn, especially, provides a way out of the random follow. While there’s a generic connection request, that’s usually the worst way to connect to someone on LinkedIn.
Random LinkedIn connection requests leave me scratching my head and wondering why the request was made. What do we have in common?
A much better LinkedIn request is to rewrite the standard request to introduce yourself. Here three great ways to do it:
- Common connections. I noticed we have a lot of common connections and we seem to be in the same business. I was wondering if we could connect on LinkedIn.
- Liked your writing. I read one of your posts at XYZ publication. I was wondering if we could connect on LinkedIn.
- Old acquaintance. I don’t know if you remember me, but we want to school together at ABC High School.
See how easy that was? And you have the start of a meaningful connection.
Of course, every course every connection request is different. You’ll come up with your own reasons for connecting.
You can do something similar on other social media. Go ahead and friend or follow the person, then leave a message introducing yourself.
Tip 2: Don’t Lead with a Pitch
It’s a fact that many of us are on social media because we are looking for gigs or trying to sell a book or product. Asking someone to hire you or to buy something is not a good first contact.
(The only possible exception is when someone has publicly advertised that they need to hire someone.)
Nearly every time I open my inbox I find a generic email from someone wanting a gig or wanting to sell me something. Most of the time, I don’t have a gig available and I’m not in the market to buy the product.
I realize that people think this is cold calling, but trust me–it does not make a good first impression. It’s not the way to make a meaningful social media connection.
It’s also not the best way to go about selling. A better method is to do your homework.
Make sure you are sending your pitch to the right person. If most pitch authors really read my blog, they would realize that I am solo freelancer with no need to hire someone or buy the same products and services large companies buy.
Take a look at the video in the post Blueprint for Landing Clients With Email from Ed Gandia on the AWAI website to learn more about warm email prospecting.
Tip 3: Don’t Immediately Ask for Favors
Another example of a bad first impression is the social media contact who starts out by asking a favor.
Here are some samples of first contacts I’ve actually received:
- I like your posts. Would you write one (for free) for my blog?
- Could you feature our company in a future article you write? (Again, for free and not on their blog.)
- Could you provide me (free) advice about becoming a writer?
This is no way to introduce yourself or build a relationship.
I’m a professional who earns my living as a writer. I can’t afford to be writing tons of free articles for anyone who asks. I also offer coaching (for a price) for those who need it.
That’s not to say I’ve never written a guest post or given free advice. But I usually do these things for contacts I have a real relationship with and not for random strangers who contact me out of the blue.
Tip 4: Do Interact
Building the right social media connections is a long-term commitment. To do it right, you need to comment often on your contact’s posts on social media and their blog.
There are several dozen social media contacts whose names I recognize instantly. Why do I recognize them?
In most cases it’s not because they’re famous. Instead, it’s because we regularly interact online.
Groups are great way to make the right social media connections. Join online groups on LinkedIn or Google+. Or, join a forum like The Freelance Writers Den or About Writing Squared to meet other writers.
Social media relationships, like offline relationships, take time and effort to build. But the effort is worth it.
What advice did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments.