I’m a firm believer that social media is more than technology, it is a change in the way that we communicate.  With that being said, the effectiveness of social networks in building business relationships is determined by the communicator.  Some people are horrible communicators and even worse relationships builders.  I’m sure you’re not one of those people.  However, you may know some of these people.  You may want to discreetly click the share button and post this on your social network profiles to encourage your relationship-building-challenged contacts to tweak their approach.  Below are the four no-nos of business courting on social media.  Notice how the rules of engagement on social media are no different than those in real life.

1. Don’t be spooky. If you want people to accept your friend request or send you requests, upload a picture to your profiles and make it visible to everyone.  Who wants to connect with or be friends with a faceless being?  Would you answer your front door if, after looking out the peephole, you notice that your “visitor” is wearing a ski mask?  What if it was a blind date set up by a friend (think Facebook recommendation).  Would you let them in even then?

2. Be selective. Know who you want to connect with on social media.  This can be your target market, connectors and even media.  It is also important to know who you don’t want to connect with.  If you’re on social media for business, there may be family members who won’t make the cut- yeah, I said it.  You may not want to approve “recruiters”.  I’m not referring to business recruiters, I mean those folks who your gut tells you are just trying to get you to buy from them, join their down line or convert to their faith.  This includes those innocent looking young girls in their underpants or muscle men who are trying to push an entirely different service.  Just because someone knocks at your door, doesn’t mean that you have to let them in.  Use discernment.  Also, feel free to disconnect/unfriend/unfollow.

A few of my friends still tease me to this day for setting the record for the shortest date known to man.  I was a sophomore in college heading out on a date with a guy who was referred by a friend.  I met him briefly once prior to the date.  He seemed smart, was extremely well looking (think elongated Prince) and had a sense of humor.  He called to tell me that he was in the parking lot of my dorms and asked if he could come up.  I said no, my roommates were not company-ready (when in fact, I just wasn’t going to let him in yet).  On my way downstairs, he called again, telling me that he was on his way up and asking which unit was mine.  I again refused and told him I’d meet him downstairs.  When he mentioned coming upstairs a third time, as we walked to his car, I told him “Thanks for the date”, turned around, and walked right back upstairs.  My friends, who were all sitting around watching television, nearly died laughing. I did the real world equivalent of unfriending him.

3.  Don’t try to sleep with someone on the first date. Of course, I don’t mean this literally.  However, one of the corniest social media lines I get hit with is, “Thank you for accepting my friend request.  I would like to explore how we could become referral partners.”  Of course, this is almost always from someone who I don’t know well, but was referred to me by a contact.  I always think, “Whoa!  Slow down!  What kind of a person do you think I am?!  I don’t know where you’ve been.  I don’t know enough about you and the fact that you’re already ready to talk ‘referrals’ tells me that you are not very picky with who you do business with.”  This line is not unique to social media.  I have heard this many times at networking events too.  Whether in person or online, I always get the creepy crawlies.  Maybe I’m fiercely protective of my contacts, but I know that all that a person has is his/her good name.  Being associated with people lacking integrity can hurt one’s business and reputation.  So… before proposing any type of “relationship”, I suggest just getting to know the person first to see if there is anything additional to explore.  Observe, observe, observe!

4.  Singing is probably not a good idea. I will never forget going on a date with a guy who, out of the blue, began to serenade me in public.  Problem?  He sounded like an excited zebra.  Second problem?  He was extremely conceited and thought he was doing me a favor.  This happens on social media constantly.  You approve a new friend and all of a sudden there is a post on your wall telling you to look at their website, “like” their page or do some other action that refers to them.  Didn’t they send you the friend request?  Then why are they not asking you about you or starting a conversation?  Instead, they are warming up their vocal cords- ♫ “Me, me, me, me!”

Never forget, the rules of engagement on social media are exactly the same as in real life!