Social Media As A Connecting Force, Not A Digital Rolodex

Social media is not a digital rolodex

Recently I received a connect request on Linkedin from someone local with a few mutual connections, and while I don’t usually accept random requests from people I don’t know I decided to seize the opportunity.

After accepting I sent a thank-you message of sorts for reaching out, and said I’d love to learn more about his business. I asked him a few simple questions to start the dialogue, as I find people respond better to easy questions rather than just beginning by talking about yourself.

After a couple days I got a two word reply consisting of “Sounds good.” I was a bit puzzled. Maybe he only read the part where I mentioned wanting to learn more about him? Is that what sounds good? Maybe he read it so fast he thought I meant I’d love to tell him more about me?

I see quite a bit of this on social media, and it’s worth examining.

He reached out to me, and yet he wouldn’t devote the 60 seconds it’d take to actually read my initial message — a customized one in contrast to so much of what you see on Linkedin. His being oblivious to the bulk of my message made it pretty clear he was not going to be a valuable connection. His paltry two-word reply reinforced that.

A lot of people seem to view social media as a popularity contest, a mission if you will to load up their digital Rolodex with as many names as possible. Whether they actually know anything about anyone is irrelevant; they sit back in the satisfaction of saying “Look at the size of my connections list.”

Quality Over Quantity In Social Media

The kicker here is that this behavior can have the opposite of intended effect. Savvy networkers may examine the sort of interactions you have online, even if it’s a quick look, and can tell a lot about the type of connection or referral partner you might be. Have thousands of connections but haven’t posted anything in three months? They may be clicking away as we speak.

I’d much rather know someone with only 50 social media connections that is very active and makes it a point to really interact with those 50 people as opposed to someone with 5000 connections who never logs on.

What do you think?

  6 comments for “Social Media As A Connecting Force, Not A Digital Rolodex

  1. Matthew Parent
    February 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything said here. I frequently get random requests onLinkedIn which I just ignore. I feel that being picky about your connections is especially important for LinkedIn which is intended for professional connections. Even if I know you there’s a good chance I’ll ignore a friend invite on LinkedIn if I’ve never worked with you.
    I think that most people don’t understand what networking actually means. They assume that giving someone their business card or friending them on LinkedIn is networking. Real networking takes a lot of work and maintenance that a vast majority of people ignore. I personally am not good at networking but I’ve never really tried (partially because I know how much work is involved)

    • Brian Watkins
      February 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      You’re right. Terri’s really gotten a lot out of networking, but she’s had to be very serious about it for some time. Not really the kind of thing you can just do once in awhile and expect any kind of big result.

  2. Marty Watkins
    February 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    “A lot of people seem to view social media as a popularity contest, a mission if you will to load up their digital Rolodex with as many names as possible.”…
    Sounds alot like face book. “look what I did or look what I bought”
    look at me…look at me…
    It’s a digital way for people to wave their hands in the air begging for attention.

    I think that people read way too fast, because we’re a “very fast paced” race. Everything is quick quick.

    • Brian Watkins
      February 8, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      Yeah being up on social media is like networking in that you have to really make time for it regularly. It’s not something you can sign into for two seconds or once every month and be really successful at it. If you’re using it at all for business and not even trying to actually connect with anyone unless a lead is practically dumped in your lap, you’re probably wasting your time.

  3. February 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I use this process to qualify everyone who sends me what I refer to as a Naked LinkedIn connect request (one with no relevance, message telling me why they want to connect or telling me who they are).

    I respond with a note saying something like this, “Thanks for the LinkedIn connection request. Please tell me how I can help you.”

    If I get a response with anything relevant or engaging (even the slightest little tiny bit) – I accept the request
    Otherwise – I delete the request.

    I agree – let’s use social media to build relationships, not collect digital business cards that get musty over time because we don’t care enough to engage, even a little.

    Thanks Brian

    • Brian Watkins
      February 8, 2013 at 10:22 pm

      Thanks for the input, Teddy! That’s probably a better way to handle that rather than accepting the request first and then seeing if it’s worthwhile. Your initial question is both an earnest attempt to be helpful and a great way to quickly determine if they’re serious about connecting.

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