Like informal summer gatherings, online platforms, such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, etc., offer wonderful opportunities to hang out and engage with large groups of people. There are some people who are close friends, some you know vaguely, some you don’t know and some you hope to get to know. The best interactions are casual, not forceful.
For example, most of us would not aggressively approach a group engaged in conversation at a BBQ and spout off a top 10 list of successes or a rehearsed elevator speech about our company or services. It’s more likely that we’d politely wander over; linger long enough to listen and get a good grasp of the subject being discussed; and then insert ourselves into the conversation as appropriate. Our chatter would likely be on topic and not overly sale-sy.
Think: How ‘bout them Yankees? (or fill in favorite team); not how ‘bout that quarterly report? Or: Where are you heading for vacation?; not where’s your bottom line heading? Make a great pitch – on the ball field; not in the boardroom. This is the time for refreshing libation rather than professional ovation.
Smart, effective (and non-irritating) users of social media follow similar principles.
1) Observe and listen first to get a full understanding of the topic of interest.
2) Determine if you have anything, personally or professionally, to offer.
3) If so, gently insert yourself into the discussion in a helpful and friendly tone.
4) Give enough on-topic information to convey that you’re knowledgeable (and available if they’d like to hear more) but not so much information that you bore people or seem boastful.
Every day, more people are wisely jumping on the social media bandwagon — and then quickly realizing they don’t know the first thing about how to ride it. BBQ etiquette is easy enough to remember and can help guide us all.
- Diane Blaszka
- Tom McManimon