By Rian Rhoe
It’s the Wild West out there. Maybe you think there are no rules in the social media landscape. Or perhaps the rules are so new that you’re compelled to bend them, or maybe I’m just plain old and don’t get it. (This is possible… I remember a time before the Internet.)
In all my Tweeting, posting, accepting and ignoring I have come to a few firm conclusions. Feel free to disagree with my vision of social media Utopia; All I ask is that you have an opinion.
Have we met? Do I know you? If we’ve never met, the polite thing to do is send a message to give your friend request some type of context. Do we have mutual friends? Do you think I’m cute? Are you a young kid hoping to get sponsored by one of the brands that employ me? Just be honest. It’s much easier to respect a direct and honest message than a passive friend request from a stranger.
This is a work tool, people! In fact, it’s an incredibly useful work tool. I have empathy for you. It’s tough trying to figure out how to get your foot in the door. It's daunting. Many industries are formed through relationships built over time. They form close knit communities and newcomers who haven't earned a reputation can be dismissed, ignored or even challenged.
Luckily I can help you avoid a few very simple faux pas.
First, it’s cheating to indicate we are friends on LinkedIn if we’ve never met. I don’t know you. Please don’t lie. If I can’t remember who you are, I am forced to either ignore you or to look at your profile, your photo and try to rack my brain and remember if we’ve met. If I do this and realize I don’t know you I think about all of the productive work I could have been doing with my time. A negative first impression probably isn’t your goal. If you also have typos and spelling errors on your page, I now officially think that I will never hire you.
Lesson number 2 on LinkedIn. This is not a place to be casual. This is your online resume people! I know we’re human and make mistakes but if your profile says you have a degree in journalism and are experienced with “publicty” I am going to think you’re an idiot, even if you’re actually a really nice person in real life.
The good news is that you can gather a wealth of information on LinkedIn. You can connect in your own way to snowboarding and that will show through. Jeff Galbraith once wrote “there are no secret handshakes” in response to letters asking how to one day write for Snowboarder Magazine. He was right. As a 17-year-old reading Snowboarder, I took his advice to heart. At the time it seemed like such a leap. I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever one day be connected to the thing I love so much. *
Twitter is your friend! It’s the one place on the Internet where it is completely and totally acceptable to follow people who you have never met in real life. It even offers an opportunity to organically strike up conversations with like-minded individuals and to create connections based on something other than a passive plea. Those people you want to connect with on LinkedIn? They are probably on Twitter. Do some research, start following and see what you can learn.
I’m not saying I’ve done it all right. I make mistakes every day. I believe most people have good intentions and the social media world is much like the real one-- full of complicated human interactions that don’t always add up. I can meet someone once and feel as if I've known them forever or meet someone 5 times and know that we will never be friends. It is the same lesson we all learned in kindergarten. We crave acceptance and social connections and are bewildered when we are rejected. But, my hope is that we can at least navigate the world in a way that is transparent and purposeful. Have intentions in the things you do. It is so much more attractive.