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Like many of us, I get a lot of social media connection requests, and they can really pile up. Gone are the days where that little “connections” indicator is automatic good news (who remembers the now-quaint excitement of hearing AOL’s “You’ve got mail!” message?). The truth is, I am already long-connected with my core group, so everyone who is contacting me now is new to me. Because the social media matrix is broken, the “trusted third party” implied endorsement means almost nothing. I’m already connected to thousands of people I don’t know, so when someone new comes to me and they’re connected to people I also don’t know, it’s not exactly a sterling endorsement.
To be honest, we encounter so many people from so many places, and we don’t know who’s who in today’s market culture. To me it feels like many people just want to connect with me to sell me something. The worst offenders in my inbox are SEO services, offshore development houses and investment opportunities, but like you, I get all sorts of approaches. Salespeople are getting more sophisticated in order to scale the fence, so now I see the consultative approach, the friend-style pitches, the “let’s collaborate” approach and even the alluring formulaic female photo approach. What this all means is that I have to spend more time than usual actually reading through the inquiries if I hope to find the few requests I might want to accept.
To deal with it all, I’ve developed a quick screening method. I’ll share that method here in case it’s useful to you. I would love to hear how you deal with this problem. Essentially, I apply three quick screening challenges to any new social media contact.
1. Who Are They?
If they’re connected to people I actually know, versus some of the random social media contacts I have but don’t know in person, they pass screen one. If they are unknown and/or only connected to other unknowns and there’s no obvious upside to connecting (see Screen 3, below), I usually decline the invitation.
2. Is It A Sales Pitch?
If I’m looking at an obvious (and unwanted) pitch, I also decline. I don’t want to go there. There are very few products or services I don’t already know about that I need, so if I want it, either I already have it or I certainly know how and where to get it. That said, there have been occasions when someone has brought something to me and I have taken the bait — but it’s rare, and when it has happened it has never (and I mean never) involved me spending money. I will say I have met some good people through unsolicited approaches, so I’m open to a meeting. But if it includes obvious selling, I’m a lot less likely to even reply.
3. Is There An Obvious Downside (Or Upside) To Being Connected?
Recently I have started collecting what I call “LinkedIn fails” because some are downright comical, like the guy in Saudi Arabia with the simple and humble headline “Greatness,” or the woman in Finland who’s “been participating in the global chat since 2001.” In these instances, I pass. But there are times when there is an obvious upside to being connected, such as an accomplished (and verifiable) entrepreneur in my field or someone in an obvious position of power or influence in an area of interest to me.
I’m only on business social media to meet interesting people with whom I might collaborate in some way. I’ve met lots of great people, but the more contacts I have the more invitations I receive, hence the need for this way of systematically making yea/nay decisions. I’m happy with the results: I’d estimate this approach helps me fly through about 95% of my connection requests much more quickly than without the system. The remaining 5% of requests may merit more scrutiny, but for these people, I now have 95% more time to actually think about or research them, so this is manageable.
I’m not suggesting my method is right for everyone. But as someone who gets lots of contact requests, lots of invitations to invest and lots of “great deals” being offered by people I don’t know, without a system I might just sign off of social media. Maybe my method is right for you, and maybe not. I’d enjoy hearing others’ suggestions for handling these requests more quickly, while still optimizing results.
December 19, 2018 at 07:54AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs