Something has really bothering me lately: people add me on Skype, but do not write a personal message explaining where they are from or where I know them from. I always have to apologize and ask them if I know them so I can decide if I accept the person or not. After all, my Skype is definitely not a place where I collect random people for fun. It’s for work, for immediate and urgent contact with clients and colleagues. Since this (in my opinion) impolite attitude is not restricted to Skype, but also happens quite frequently on other social media as well, I decided to write a blog post about basic social media behavior. Similarly to social behavior, there are some good manners you should follow online as well not to sound impolite or unprofessional.
Let’s start with the main purpose of this post: how to approach potential connections on social media. Always take the time to write a brief personal message to the person you are requesting contact introducing yourself, explaining where you know the person from and the reason you are adding them. This won’t take long and it will allow the person to easily decide if he/she accepts your invitation or not. Chances are they will be more willing to do it just because you were kind enough to provide a personal message. At least this is what happens to me. It shows you are adding that person to your network because you feel they could add something to your knowledge, not simply as another contact to increase your network in numbers.
Have a decent profile picture. By decent I mean one in which anyone can identify you. Not a picture of your puppy, not a picture of a landscape, not one in which you are miles away and your face cannot be recognized. Especially not one emphasizing your boobs, instead of your face, making inappropriate gestures, making a sexy face, in underwear/swimming suit. Your profile picture is your first impression on social media and the only way someone can recognize you or not, especially if you have a blocked network. People will not lose time trying to figure out who you are in order to decide if they accept your invitation or not. If it’s too much trouble, they’ll just ignore you.
Only add people on Skype if you really need to talk to them on a regular basis. Skype is not a social network, it’s an instant messaging system. If you really want to connect with someone, try their LinkedIn, Facebook fan page or even Twitter. If you only want to ask the person something, e-mail them.
Last, but not least, be careful with what you ask people when you do not know them. Asking for personal favors is not a good idea. I was recently contacted by someone who found me on ProZ.com. The person liked my profile and wanted that I “had a look” at their CV and cover letter to “review, edit and analyze” them. Besides contacting me straight through Skype, he/she was pushy and kept insisting even when I tried to say I also had a lot of work writing mine. Even though spending a long time politely explaining I couldn’t do it, the person eventually sent me an email with the CV and the cover letter. I really don’t mind helping with reasonable doubts (as I have already done publicly here on the blog), but asking for personal favors is beyond reasonable. So be careful yourself when you approach a colleague. You can do it, and should, but be reasonable.
There are many other tips as to how to behave online, but these, in my opinion, are some of the basic ones and the ones I felt like sharing because they have already happened to me. If you feel like sharing any other, please feel free to comment below. Or event if you do not agree with any of the ones I mentioned, say it out loud.