Saturday, May 11, 2013

"The Coffee, Meal or Beer Rule" of Social Media

There are many opinions about how to best utilize social media tools in your personal and professional lives. I maintain that you have to explore and learn, but in the end do what works for you. 

You will find plenty of "experts" who are sure that their way is the only way.... but there are many paths to building your online reputation and cultivating friendships.

My personal policy for whom I link with on LinkedIn and Facebook is "The Coffee, Meal or Beer Rule".  I have spoken about this for years, but decided to re-post the concept after a recent conversation at a business marketing conference.  

Simply stated, I do not link to people on LinkedIn and Facebook whom I have not interacted with personally.  On Twitter, Google+ and other sites I have different policies, but too many strangers in my LinkedIn and Facebook stream can cloud the value I receive from being engaged in the first place.  

Having read someone's blog, heard about their reputation or briefly meting them at a conference may or many not mean there is a foundation for a relationship.  Thus I established the benchmark of sitting with them for "coffee, meal or beer".  A conversation that lasts 45 minutes establishes a baseline for a minimum level of contact before the online link is made.  I also have "digital equivalent" options such as phone calls, Skype conversations  or Google+ Hang Outs.... as in today's online world our relationships can certainly grow via virtual meetings.

Not every one of my contacts originally met this criteria, but a majority of those in my LinkedIn and Facebook lists are those with whom I have had a substantial initial conversation.  A few got in before I established the policy, and I often make exceptions for meeting professionals and recruiters whose industries practices are to utilize LinkedIn as a way to reach out to people they may wish to do business with in the future.

There are those who disagree with my policy and believe one gains more from linking to everyone, but this has served me well. When I get a request, I will often ask for a personal meeting or a call.  If the person reaching out cannot make the time for a chat, I am not sure why they want the connection at all.

My advice to others is to have a policy (even if it is different from mine), and then to be respectful of others who use these tools in different ways! (Lack of respect for those with differing opinions is an epidemic online, and we must get beyond that!).

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Unknown said...

Great post Thom.

Those who Link In with everyone are rarely connected to anyone. Relationships, business or otherwise, are only made when you take the time to get to know people. Of course, I'm preaching to the choir I know!

Ripple On!!!

My Law License said...

I don't think this is thought of enough. People think the number of connections are important, when it's really the value of the connection. When I talk about twitter, I tell people that while I have a lot of followers, even if the only follower I had was the ABA Journal, that would be valuable, as they like to pick up on things I write.

I also think people need to stop worrying about lack of reciprocity. I refer to it as the "girl who you liked that didn't like you back" rule. Just because you are interested in what someone else says (ex: twitter) doesn't mean it's reciprocal. Get over that.

Amelia said...

This is cool!