From the “Just When You Think You Understand Social Media Department”…

I have a confession to make…I’ve acting like the back-end of a horse lately.

There. I said it.


What prompted this admission? Well, other than I really was acting like the business end of a horse, I feel really bad. Horrible, in fact.  I thought I understood the rules of engagement social media fairly well, but it turns out that in one respect, I was the one behaving badly.

So here’s the story:

As an early adopter of many social media platforms, I have built a fairly robust network over the past years, especially on LinkedIn. But I was stuck on remaining a closed networker, and getting frustrated by an ever-increasing number of requests to connect from people I didn’t know.

As a career management coach and frequent speaker, I’ve always told my clients and audience to include a personalized message to people when asking to connect – after all, I would love to hear how I could help them.  But my patience was wearing thin with people I’ve never met before indicating that they were a ‘Friend’  (how on earth did they decide that?) while only including the standard default greeting: “I would like to add you to my LinkedIn network.”  What? I didn’t want to be simply ‘collected’ as another notch on someone else’s belt!

What really irked me was that while  I do consider myself in general to be a friendly person, I was offended that people who did not know me said I was their friend, and to me, that seemed to be stretching the truth.

And so, bent on a path of educating people, I started telling them that.

Ouch.  That goes into the #Fail file…

I got roundly chastised by someone who actually took the time to respond – which got me thinking… SHOULD I be connecting to everyone who reaches out to me… even if they use the default greeting? And as it turns out, oftentimes, there isn’t any other way to indicate a connection to someone except as a ‘Friend’ – so these requests might not be so much purposeful misrepresentations than limitations imposed by LinkedIn.

So I reached out to my resume writing colleagues and asked them for a reality check… is it best to be closed or open networker? The response was unanimous: Be an open networker!   In fact, one of my friends, Julie Walraven of Design Resumes, wrote a blog post about my inquiry… and lined out a very clear case of the advantages of being open to networking with anyone.

Shocked, I realized with absolute horror that I have been effectively slamming the door in people’s faces.

I am going to try and send a note to those folks that I was closed off to – I don’t expect much of a response, if any.  The damage is already done. But what I will do is be an open networker from this point forward and accept any and all requests that I get.

As one resume writer pointed out, being connected is a starting point for the person to get to know you better.  And if you get a request from someone you aren’t that familiar with in your network, take the time to schedule coffee or a phone call with them to build rapport before passing on their request.

My lesson learned: open the door as much as possible; it’s when you slam the door shut that you actually are shutting yourself off.  Very powerful lesson indeed.

One Comment

Julie Walraven

LinkedIn, as you know, is quirky and that friend option sometimes is the only way in. But I can say that I have thought the same way. If I hadn't been blessed by some early clients who first connected on LinkedIn without me knowing them, I would have been in the same place. I know you well enough to know that you are a kind and generous person, Dawn and I am sure those people who you didn't connect before with will now think about connecting in the future. If they don't, they are the ones who will miss out because you bring true value to those looking for career marketing advice.

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