Want to grow your social networks beyond the connections you already have?  If you are a professional or business owner, this is normally the point of diving in the the social media arena.  However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind while making new connections.  Here are five tips for getting “accepted”.

  1. Have a profile picture and make it public. Nothing says “scary” like a faceless stranger sending you a friend request.  Whenever this happens, I imagine looking through the peephole of my front door only to see a guy in a ski mask.  “Sorry buddy, you’re never getting in here!  Now, where did I put that taser?”
  2. Send a customized message with the friend request or invitation. Tell the person why you want to connect with them.  Perhaps mention common connections or state that you have heard great things about them from a mutual friend.
  3. Make your initial message about them, not you. Sure, you’ll want to tell them something about yourself, but you don’t want to come off narcissistic either.   I witnessed a perfect example of this yesterday.  A boomer friend forwarded me a message she received from someone wanting to connect with her via a social network and asked me for my thoughts.  The note was four paragraphs and at least 300 words all about the person requesting the connection and her business.  She didn’t ask my friend a single question or relate any of her note to her.  Additionally, it was obvious that she sends the same note to everyone.  Request denied.
  4. Fill out your social media profiles completely.  If you’re on Facebook for business networking, include information about your career and projects.  On LinkedIn, fill out your experience, summary and other profile areas.  Make sure that, when your desired contacts “check you out”, they can gain an accurate picture of who you are.
  5. Please, no advertisements. Sales pitches have no place in initial social media interactions.  That is, unless you like for your potential connections to hit the “ignore” button.  Build quality relationships first.