The Right Way to Build Connections Using Facebook

Here are some suggestions on how you might improve your use of social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook to grow your network. I wrote recently about how unprofessional it is to ‘pitch’ your business idea at strangers before you have developed a relationship with them. So now let’s look at how you develop a relationship with people you have never met on-line.

The truth is that you build relationships on-line a lot like you do off-line! That means you build them gradually, over time, without self-interest, offering lots of value to the other person.

1. In the real world, we take our time gradually getting to know people and letting them in on all the details of our lives. It lets us figure out if we have common interests and decide whether or not we want to get closer. Doesn’t it weird you out when a new acquaintance gives you too much information too quickly? I thought so. Go slowly in developing lasting, mutually beneficial connections.

2. Off-line when you are interested in getting to know someone you don’t approach every interaction thinking about what they can do for you, do you? In building on-line relationships don’t think about what is in it for you. Eventually you may find that you gain a lot from the relationship-wisdom, new perspectives, or connections to other awesome people. But this will usually happen after you have thought about what others need first.

3. As I get to know my friends I often think of things that they would find helpful. So I share it with them! Could be a sale or coupon for their favorite store, an article on a topic of interest, suggestions on how to decorate their dining room for the holiday, etc. I’m adding value by meeting their needs with the knowledge and resources I possess. That is an important part of any relationship.

Simple, right? Here is an invitation I received earlier today:

Allegra, What is goin’ on in your world!!! I love this industry; Network Marketing, as it has been very good to me!! Tell me about your network marketing experience… how long have you been in MLM? Signed Decent Marketer.

Would you accept that invite? I would and will! It is short and to the point, tells me a little bit about why I might want to accept his invite and invites me to get to know him better. Here’s another example of how I might handle this:

“Hey Sue,

I noticed that we’re both members of the XXXXX group but up to this point we’ve not connected directly. So I hope this message will initiate communication between us. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to add you as a personal friend or connection. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Take care,

Savvy Facebook User”

This is how I invite people who I think are interesting and who I would like to add me as a connection. Some will, some won’t, so what? At least I am confident that I have given them an informed opportunity to get to know me in a professional, value-added way. If more network marketers used a similar type of approach, they would see more success.