If you’re using social media for businesses, then you likely want to not only connect with existing friends and colleagues, but also identify and connect with new influencers, potential clients, etc. While social media gives us access to people in key positions, and around the world, there is one fact that anyone with the goal of building an online following should keep in mind: You don’t know these people! Here are five tips for getting “accepted.”

Five tips for getting accepted by desired social media connections

  1. Have a profile picture and ensure that it is public. Imagine a knock at your door. Now, envision looking out of the peep hole to see a stranger with a ski mask on. Are you letting him in? Exactly! Don’t be that weird stalker person on social media. While privacy is certainly important on social media, you should make your profile picture public if you want to connect with new friends. Additionally, ensure that the picture you use is appropriate.
  2. Create a customized message with each friend request or invitation. Explain why you want to connect with and mention if you have mutual friends in common or if you’ve heard awesome things about them from a friend/connection.
  3. Focus on them, versus you, in your initial messages. Yes, it’s important to share a little about yourself, but you want to show that you are interested in building a new relationship, not signing them up for your fan club. I’ve received many messages from potential connections who contact me via LinkedIn and Facebook, but proceed to write three or more paragraphs about themselves and then have the nerve to request that I click on a link to watch a video about them or read their blog. Request denied.
  4. Completely fill out your social media profiles. On Facebook, include information about your career and projects. On LinkedIn, fill out your experience, summary and other profile areas. When your desired contacts “investigate you” they should gain an accurate portrait of who you are, what you believe and what you do.
  5. Refain from advertising. Sales pitches have no place in initial social media interactions. That is, unless you like for your potential connections to hit the “ignore” button. Focus on building a quality relationship first and add value.

This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.

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