It’s a pretty common thing, we do it practically every day; we receive, accept and send invitations to connect with a lot of people (that we know in most cases) over various social networks like FaceBook, Twitter and Linkedin. But it is also common that we reject the invites from people we’ve never even heard of before, or worse that people we know but don’t really know us, reject our invitation to connect.
This is something that, because of the line of work I’m in I get to see frequently. Whenever I go to an event or conference, be it as a speaker, as part of the audience or backstage, I get to see the situation from the two perspectives the invitee and the person sending the invitation.
You see, when you go to these type of events its easy to meet very interesting people and exchange points of view if even for just a few minutes. When this happens, in the best case, you made an impact on the person you wanted to meet and were able to get their contact information; and if you are good at following up, you’ll make sure to send a note to your new contact, the very next day, thanking her for the conversation and inviting her to connect at any given social network to continue your dialog.
But, If you are like most of us, you will most likely forget to do this and months later, when you stumble upon that person in a social network, you will try to add her to your network and expect that she remembers you as if you had been best friends in high school and open her door to you automatically.
Now, let’s be honest. Would you let any stranger that comes knocking down your door into your home? Then why do you expect people that doesn't know you to accept your invitation to be friends with you in FaceBook or recommend you in Linkedin?
You have to work hard at building your network.
Let’s face it, creating a network can be quite a challenge, even for the most popular people.
We were not borned knowing how to do it and the full use of social networks is still misunderstood.
That said, there are a few basic hints that can be very helpful when starting to build your social network:
- Participating in social networks, even though its very tempting, is not just about being popular. Rather it is about establishing valuable (both for you and your contacts) connections; and it isdefinitely easier to do add value to people with who you have something in common with. Look for people who share similar interests and values, don’t just try to connect for the sake of having a “larger network”.
- Don’t do “cold invites” this is the equivalent to the famous sales cold calls, and really, when have those really worked?
- Find your Dr Love. And I don’t mean the typical friend who is always looking to set you up with a blind date, but rather to find out which of your contacts already is friends with the person you want to connect with and ask them to introduce you. I’m sure they will be glad to do it. There is a reason why the six degrees of separation theory exists, do your research, find your cupid and ask them to share some love.
- Create your door opener and be part of the conversation. Business, especially those who work on a B2B scheme have been doing direct mailings that gets their prospects to open the door to their sales folks for a long time and very successfully might I add.
Twitter, trackbacks, comments sections in blogs and forums are great tools to do precisely this. Most of us who are sharing our content in the form of a blog, a tweet, a video in YouTube, etc. are not only open to feedback but we are actively looking forward to it.
So, you want to connect with someone you don’t know? Search for their blog or podcast or their profile in Twitter, etc. Listen to what they say, digest it, form an opinion and share it with them. Add value to them, get yourself noticed by them and once you’ve established such a dialog, ask them to add you to their network.
- Become connectazible. Transform yourself into someone others want to connect with. Start your own conversation. We all have something to say, experiences to share and anecdotes to tell. Loose the fear and the excuse that no one is going to be interested in what you have to say. Actually, you’d be amazed at how many people share your interests. In a virtual world where there are over 1,300 billion people, I’m sure you can easily find a group of people who are as passionate as you about your subject of interest.
And just like my friend and blogger Phil Gerbyshak says: “Give first, before you ask”.