I am stunned and amazed by how many people just send out friend invites without taking a moment to type a few words about why they want to connect with me. The two social networks where this happens the most are Facebook and LinkedIn. Come on people, where is your social networking etiquette?!?
If I know you in real life, then I won’t think twice about accepting your friend offer (unless I don’t like you). But if you don’t know me personally, don’t assume I’ve heard of you or know that you follow me on Twitter or remember exchanging cards six years ago at an Internet event. Not putting a quick note to explain why you want to connect with me is nothing short of annoying and dare I say rude.
1. Define your own friending policy. Before you go off half-cocked sending out friend invites, develop a strategic plan for who you’ll friend and why. Do the same for whose friend invites you’ll and accept and why you might reject one. This will be a helpful tool to refer back to as you build your social networks.
2. Say why you want to friend. When sending out a social networking friend invitation, make sure to include a brief sentence about why you want to friend that person. Saying that you are a fan of their blog is perfectly acceptable. People don’t just accept friend requests from people they know.
3. Don’t be coy in your invite. There is nothing cutesy about being mysterious in your friend invite. Be direct and clear. If you met someone at a conference, try to include something you discussed to trigger their memory.
4. Don’t friend someone just because they’re friends with a friend. Trolling your friends’ connections is commonplace but don’t go through their friends list and automatically friend all their friends. Be strategic, selective and thoughtful about the process. Believe me, they don’t all want to be your friend just because you have a friend in common.
5. Reject politely. Most services won’t notify a person if you unfriend or unfollow them although some applications will let them know you’ve rejected them so be prepared for a “why did you unfollow me” email. Refer politely to your personal friending policy and emphasize that is “nothing personal.” Don’t get sucked into an emotional morass but don’t ignore them either. Rejection festers. Reject others discretely.
6. Take rejection like a man. Or woman, of course. If someone unfriends or unfollows you, move on. Don’t take it personally. Yes, it might be something personal, but don’t get emotionally invested in these rejections. If anything, try to learn from them, see if there is a pattern, and make strategic changes if you feel that you are doing something to alienate people. If you care. It all goes back to your friending policy and why you want to have friends or followers in the first place.
There you have it. My first 6 tips for social media etiquette. Stay tuned for the book!
What is your biggest social media pet peeve? How can it be fixed?