Three tips to get social networking contacts

If you want to take your social networking to the next level, you should consistently be meeting with your contacts in person. However, you have to have contacts in the first place in order to do that. So if you want to get more contacts on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I’ve got three tips for you.

Recently someone invited me to join their network on LinkedIn. I had no clue who this person was. I didn’t recognize his name, and he didn’t have a photo. And his company name was incredibly generic. And not in the “Initech” Office Space sort of way. Actually, the reverse. I won’t use the actual company name, but it was basically like calling your construction company “The Construction Company.”

So I turned him down.

I’m definitely worse than most, as my memory is terrible. Any of my fellow Orangites at T&S can attest to this. But if someone has only met you once, you have to provide some memory triggers. The official guidelines on Facebook and LinkedIn say that you should actually know the person in real life. So you should only be a “friend” on Facebook if you consider yourselves friends in real life. And you should only “connect” on LinkedIn if you really are connected in one of the official LinkedIn ways.

Here’s the three tips I promised to ensure that people you really have a relationship with accept your request to connect (or whatever that specific social network calls it).

1. Have a clear photo of yourself.

The photo should have a fairly clear view of your face. It’s okay on social sites that have a non-business slant to them to use informal photos, but still make sure they have a clear view of your face.

I used the photo here for a time on my Facebook profile. Although my son Jackson is in the picture as well, it’s still a closely cropped photo of my face, so there’s no confusion about who is in the picture. And because Jackson is three in this photo, there’s no confusion about which of the two people are actually “Tim Priebe.”

I mentioned that this kind of photo is okay on non-business social networking sites. I would still recommend against using something like this on sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo. Those are intended for business-oriented contacts, so your photo should reflect that.

2. Keep your profile up to date.

If I just met you within the last week and you told me about how you were doing sales at a plumbing company, I may be a bit confused if I check your Facebook profile and it says your current employer is Joe’s Pizza.

3. Remind your contact where you met.

When you’re trying to add someone as a friend, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to put a brief personal message. And on Twitter, after you follow someone, you can always send them an @ message.

Just keep it simple, but clear. Something like, “It was great meeting you at Sam’s Seafood at the Chamber event Thursday night.” You’ve just identified where you were, when you were there, and what the actual event was.

Of course, not everyone uses social networks the same way. Some people accept all requests, others accept almost no requests. So don’t get your feelings hurt. But this will at least help increase your chances of connecting with people you’ve actually met.

Tim Priebe is a public speaker, the author of the book Webifiable and the upcoming book Blogify Your Business and the owner of T&S Web Design. You can reach him on Twitter and Facebook with the username timjpriebe.

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