in Social Media


Image by Librarian by Day via Flickr

While business cards are a standard way to leave a reminder and a calling card with someone you’ve just met, what about those times when you forget to connect? More and more, I’ve explained both Twitter and Facebook to the uninitiated as a way to introduce yourself to folks you meet. Obviously for it to work effectively, you both need to be using those services or one like it. But if they are, it’s a great way to introduce yourself in a way that a phone call would be ineffective or inappropriate.

After all, if you’ve just met, you’re not likely to have a lot to talk about that would perhaps warrant a phone call. Maybe you’re too busy to catch up that way anyway. Email is fine, but for some, it’s just a bottomless pit never to be seen again.

If you want to continue a conversation, connect with a new friend or find out more about someone you had minimal contact with, especially after a social event, sending them an invite shortly after you’ve met is a good way to do it.

Isn’t that a bit creepy, though? Not really. I mean, it depends on the context of your conversation. I’m thinking quasi-professional or even personal interactions in a group setting, that aren’t related to you trying to date said person are just fine. Would it be a bit forward if you’re thinking something beyond the standard business chat? Facebook yes, Twitter no. Though a Twitter feed can lack context if you’re 1) new to it and 2) don’t use it well enough to be interesting to someone who doesn’t know you that well.

So do you just say hi? Maybe you do, perhaps you don’t. This doesn’t seem that confusing for folks who are conference veterans or who have a stack of business cards with twitter addresses on them. But believe it or not, there are lots of folks out there who still struggle with the appropriateness of mixing what they view as digital social venues between personal and business.

How do you reject politely? Some of us use Facebook or Twitter for one thing. Others have taken the step of having more than one profile for business v. pleasure. It’s really about what you’re comfortable, what works for you and what you use it for. But if you only use social media for personal, non-work related communication and someone wants to connect who you don’t fit into that narrow band of communication, send them a note. Just say, “hey, I’d love to continue our conversation.” Or something like, “it was great to meet you the other night, send me an email here.” You don’t even have to explain your social media stance. After all, it’s your network. We all have lots of reasons for why we do what we do and to be honest, once you a reach a certain level anyway, it can quickly become noise.

What else? For someone who is just meeting you, but wants to know more and doesn’t think to Google you on their own, social network sites can be a good way to break the ice in ways that your conversation might have started, but doesn’t confirm. We know lots of people who say one thing about themselves, but in their personal dealings can be very different. Thus, it can be affirming to see them interacting with others the same way we met them. This is probably more of a personal thing, than a professional one. But there can be overlap there.

Ultimately, there are a ton of ways to connect with people. But for folks who don’t consider themselves social denizens, the rules on doing this might seem more daunting than they really are. Having ways to connect to new people can expand your network beyond just the folks you already know.