I got an interesting question from someone I know (name withheld on request) recently. I was asked:
“I would like to reach out and connect with a professional contact that I have made via Twitter/Facebook /LinkedIn. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach a such a contact without appearing to be ‘Facebook stalking’?”
Hmm, I thought to myself. That’s a good question.
In fact, I thought it was such a good question, that I wanted to share my answer with you!
Now, the background, as my friend explained in more detail, is this:
The professional contact is someone senior at an organization which could very well end up being my friend’s “dream employer.” And what is interesting is that the whole thing started when the organization’s official Twitter account retweeted one of my friend’s tweets.
Being a polite person, s/he thanked them, and then went to their website to learn more… and was impressed! So s/he started tweeting/RTing them on a regular basis, and wouldn’t you know it, they became quite friendly on Twitter.
One tweet led to another…
Which led to the head honcho of said organization reaching out to my friend on a one-to-one level – still in social, mind you, as in, not offline – and now they are Facebook friends (initiated by head honcho, not friend).
With me so far? Good.
So, knowing all this, here’s what I said (with relevant edits to maintain the requested confidentiality, and added emphasis/formatting, because I can do what I want on my blog, ha!):
I think you should absolutely try to set up an informational meeting with HH [head honcho]. It seems to me you’re in a great place; s/he added you on Facebook, not the other way around, so s/he should be receptive to it.
To me that’s one of the toughest barriers [that] you’ve already overcome; the door is already open for you.
So given that you have already interacted via social media, I don’t think it’s too much to say, “I’d love to learn a little more about <your company>… would you have 20-30 minutes for me to say “hello” to you in person over coffee?” … or something like that.
And if you can throw in a personal detail (e.g. are you both … dog lovers? amateur chefs? etc.) that you’ve gleaned from Facebook to show what else you have in common, so much the better.
Then, when you meet her/him, be as frank as you were with me… because s/he is bound to ask you, in some way, shape or form, what you’re interested in, how s/he can help, etc.
Make it very clear to her how she can do this. For example, “May I email you my resume in case you ever have open positions I might be a good fit for?” is way more effective than “Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance” …
… something people say in conventional work settings all the time, and it’s one of the most irritating phrases I’ve come across, because it doesn’t really say anything!
And then stay in touch. Thank her for her time via a note, and every few months, check in with her – without asking for anything.
That’s what I would do not just for her, but for any interesting folks you come across.
Do you think I gave my friend the right advice? Would you do anything different?
Whatever you think, I want to reiterate something I said:
When you ask someone for help, be as specific as you can. I can’t tell you how many people ask if I can help them in some way, and if I say yes, don’t know exactly what to ask for.
OK, back to you. Please share your thoughts, and if this was useful to you, please let me know (as well as other questions you might have)!
[…] WUL is still on vacation, but here’s an oldie-but-goodie from our vault that originally ran on Sept. 28, 2012. It might answer a question you ask or have been asked, so here it is […]
@falkeee Thanks for sharing!
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@mrdancohen Thank you, Dan!
@dbvickery @kategroom @KimAspinall @kstaxman @ginidietrich @mdbarber @cision Many thanks!!
@shonali You’re welcome! Have a good night! cc: @dbvickery @kategroom @kimaspinall @kstaxman @ginidietrich @mdbarber
@cision Thanks so much for the mention and attention :-)
@SprintingHerald Thank you for sharing, LaKrishia :)
This questions does come up and always gets many different answers as it’s not a “one answer” fits all kind of question.I think that it’s always a matter of really looking back at the history and just how open and direct the response is to exchanged tweets and DM’s. Usually if you really look back at what has gone on you can get a feeling for what the underlying feelings and motivations being shared mean.Re read and look at all the tweets and DM’s you can find and if it feels right offer to meet up at some public place and talk about what if any opportunities might exist. I don’t see how this could be seen as “stocking” if it’s kept low keyed and was encouraged by the growing engagement you’ve shared.It’s only if they don’t agree to meet or once meeting you don’t follow up or quite communication and you persist can I see anything you’ve done being seen as “stocking”.
kstaxman Exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by (and I apologize it took me this long to swing back!).
RT @Steveology: How to Network On Social Media Without Being a Stalker http://t.co/4ooe6WCy via @shonali
@shonali great post!
@jrsygrl62 Thanks much!
@loretobgude Waving hi and wish you a great afternoon :)
@brasonja Waving hi back and wishing you a great afternoon as well :)
RT @DeniseWakeman How to Network On Social Media Without Being a Stalker http://t.co/DJV5ks0r via @shonali
@geoffliving @steveology @leaderswest @jamiecrager @seanmcginnis @thejackb @chattyprof Many thanks for the shares!
@shonali Happy to support an active fellow Triberr! Let’s keep sharing.
You gave great advice. Why not reach out to people you admire? They ought to be flattered that you’ve demonstrated such good taste and judgment. If they don’t have time, or aren’t interested, you haven’t lost anything. And you could end up with a great mentor, reference or boss. Whether you’re reaching out for a meeting or just a phone call — that’s a judgment call.
barrettrossie Haha! You should know since I keep pestering you. I seem to pester a lot of people these days. ;)
barrettrossie Thank you! Yes, I think 99% of the time they are. I know I am, when people reach out to me… the trouble with me is that I feel bad when I can’t speak to everyone who asks, and I just can’t because my life is so crazy… so the ones who are persistent and patient are the ones that “get” me.Are you still in touch with your mentor(s), Rossie?
I can’t give advice on what to do in this situation, because this is a question I’ve had several times over the past 3 months myself! My question is, what if the senior person hasn’t reached out to you, but accepted your Linkedin request, or followed you on Twitter, how do you approach that? Thanks for the advice Shonali!
@Jess Well, if they’ve accepted your LinkedIn request, or followed you back on Twitter, then chances are they think you’re a valuable connection to have, in some way. And I don’t mean that in a bad or crass way, just that they consciously accepted your request to connect, and possibly didn’t accept many others. It depends on what you’re looking for, but I wouldn’t ask for too much too soon… and honestly, only you can be the judge of how much is “too much.” I don’t think a note to say “thank you” is out of order, and then check in every once in a while, maybe comment/send a note if something nice happens for/to them. You’ll know when it’s gone from “social acquaintances” to ” social friends,” and that’s the point at which you – delicately and politely – ask for time to talk, meet, or whatever. At least, that’s what I think!
@sfselan So glad you liked it, thank you! Do leave a comment if you can. :)
@shonali Looking forward to hearing more of your perspectives.
@sfselan That’s very kind of you, thank you!
@chattyprof @soulati Thanks so much for sharing!
RT @Soulati @shonali How to Network On Social Media Without Being a Stalker http://t.co/X3T8nyfO
@martinamcgowan @brennermichael @soulati Thanks so much for sharing!
@youternmark @dbvickery Thanks for sharing!
I know that with my more recent job searches, I’ve turned to people I know on social media first rather than search for jobs. It’s an interesting transformation, reaching out to a person first. I’m not necessarily asking for a job; I just ask if they have contacts in certain sectors or if they have heard about openings for a specific job.
Erin F. Someone on Google+ said they didn’t agree with asking for a meeting first, which I think was a good point (his point was, see if they’ll talk to you on the phone, whatever’s least inconvenient) … but I think if that connection has been established it’s much easier to make that ask.
Shonali I don’t think I’ve ever asked for a face-to-face meeting first. Most of the people I know online don’t live in Austin anyway, so meetings would be difficult. :) I’m trying to grow my network in Austin, but it’s hard to do when I’m at work all day. It’s part of the reason I’ve been reaching out to people I already know and seeing if they can make introductions with people they know in Austin. That, in and of itself, is a change. I’m prone to playing the lone ranger card.
Erin F. That works too. That’s exactly how I started networking in the DC area before I’d even moved… trying to make connections through connections, and also just doing my research and reaching out to people. And then people like kdpaine helped me out tremendously by making introductions that I’ll always be grateful for. You never know who can help until you ask!
@anniealleybc @jasonkonopinski @kdillabough @tressalynne Thanks so much for sharing!
@shonali My pleasure :). Hope you have a good weekend!
@tressalynne You and me both. :p @dfriez & I were talking about you yesterday, were your ears burning?
@shonali @dfriez Uh oh! My reputation precedes me ;)
@tressalynne I met you LONG before I met your reputation. :p @dfriez
@shonali It was a great post! :-)
@anniealleybc Thank you!
Nice post Shonali! It’s always better to be specific and to the point rather than beating around the bush. Through Social Media, it’s become all the more easier to reach out to people and yeah, your advice to your friend was absolutely perfect!
Ancita Thank you! Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? I have seen that when I meet people IRL, if we have first connected online, there is some kind of connection, even if it’s not huge… and that often helps as an ice-breaker. Eg, yesterday bullseyecomm and I had a LONG phone chat about.. well, various things, but we first connected online. She first referenced a blog that had featured me a while back, and though I couldn’t meet her for coffee, it was nice to chat with her (and hopefully she thinks so too!).
@shonali Yea, I have been in a similar situation. We first connected through Twitter and then had a conversation for sometime and eventually I did meet for a coffee to get some guidance from that person. Connecting online first did act as an ice-breaker and then I was much more comfortable meeting in person.
Ancita I think there have been only one or two times that the people I met IRL were nothing like – or much worse than! – their online personas. Did you find that the people you met were basically the same offline as online?
Shonali ummm, not really…I guess there is always a difference between online and offline personalities. I believe everyone imagine’s a particular picture of the person when they meet online and that may or may not be the exact picture they imagined when they meet the person offline. I have met few people online and then offline..but always found some difference in their personalities.
Ancita That’s true. What I meant was, once you got “used” to them offline, did you feel the same hanging out/interacting with them as you did online?
Shonali yes yes…I did feel the same while interacting with them offline…
@spinsucks Thank you for sharing * and* the comment!
LOVE this post Shonali!! I think this is great advice, and similar to how I got my job (I think). I don’t remember if I requested to be friends on Facebook or the other way around, but we began chatting online via Twitter, I met her in person, became FB friends, we worked together on a few things at my previous job, mentioned I was interested in working for her, and here I am. Yup, it’s Gini!! It’s important to make lasting connections and I think this is solid advice on how to do so :)
yvettepistorio Thanks! Isn’t it weird how the best things (for us) happen in the most unimagined way? You can plan till the cows come home, but things will happen as they are meant to.
@bdorman264 LOL! Thanks for sharing!