Introduce yourself politely

After last week’s newsletter on expanding your online marketing, I see that some of you (ahem) need to brush up on your social networking skills for better success on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In particular, you need to provide solid, friendly introductions.

In real life, you can go up to someone at an art opening, stick out your hand, and simply say, “Hi, I’m Sally. Will you be my friend?” You might get a strange look in response, but it will be a conversation starter. At the same time, you might feel kind of silly doing this.

Manuela Valenti
Manuela Valenti, Monsters of the Past.
Mixed media on canvas, 36 x 12 inches.
©The Artist

So why are you doing it online? Wouldn’t it be easier–and more polite–to introduce yourself by sharing something that you have in common with the other person?

Instead of using the default “Will you be my friend?” (Facebook) or “I’d like to connect with you” (LinkedIn) opening lines, I hope that you’ll take the time to personalize your initial contact with people who may not know you well or at all. While most people will friend anyone and everyone on Facebook, it’s especially important that you know your connections on LinkedIn.

To friend or connect with me, try this: “Hi, Alyson. I’m one of your newsletter subscribers and I’d like to connect with you here.” That gives me some frame of reference as to how you know me. You could also say: “Hi, Alyson. I found you on Jason White’s site and then started listening to your podcast. I’d like to connect with you here.” You can see that this is adaptable to almost anyone else you want to connect with.

To friend or connect with someone in your past . . . “Hey, Frank. It’s been a long time, but we had the same drawing class our junior year in college. I moved away from Ohio (to Oregon) about 15 years ago, but I’d like to connect with you here.” Mentioning your location (or any other personal detail) gives the other person some sort of reference. You might even find out that it’s another thing you have in common.

To friend or connect with someone you don’t really know . . . “Hi, Mary. I’ve been admiring your art and blog for a couple of years now and just found you here on Facebook. I hope we can connect here.” Of course, you have to tell the truth, but sincere flattery is good for any networking situation.

KNOW THIS———-~> Online networking isn’t that different from networking in person–except for the requisite computer.

THINK ABOUT THIS—~> Are you introducing yourself politely? Or have you been relying too much on the default introductions for Facebook and LinkedIn?

DO THIS————~> Introduce yourself politely. Think of how you would introduce yourself in an email or at a party and use that as a starting point. It’s uncomfortable for most people to introduce themselves without a frame of reference for the other person, so why would you do this online?

Don’t ever presume that someone remembers you if you’ve had only brief contact with them or your connection was in the distant past. Summon all of your manners and do it the right way. After all, you only get one shot at it.


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