How to Make More Friends Online

Friday, 31 July 2009

Have you ever been hit on by a really slimy guy at a bar? You know, the kind that uses cheesy lines and is talking about “later” before you know his name, or is trying to buy you a drink before he knows yours? Well, lately that’s how I’ve been feeling every time I login to Facebook.

I, along with a bunch of other social media bloggers, have said this over and over again: introduce yourself! Whether you are friending on Facebook, following on Twitter or connecting on LinkedIn, say hello! And, oh, I don’t know, maybe why we should connect?

Lest I sound like a snob, I’d like to make it know that I accept everyone—if you tell me why or how I know you, or own up to the fact that I have no clue who you are, but you’d like to change that.

Here are a few tips to keep me, and others, from clicking ‘ignore.’

Connectivity

“We know all the same people, we should get lunch, blah, blah, blah. Wanna fuck?” OK, so I stole that from Sex and the City, but you get the idea. Don’t make me click through to see who our shared online connections are; tell me who you know online or off, that I know as well. That’s enough of a reason! And, assuming I like who you are name dropping, it’s a vote of confidence for you. Either way, placing you with people I already know is the easiest way to make me feel obligated to say yes.kiss-my-ass-3-2

Flattery

This works in so many ways, in so many venues in life, you really should master it. Tell me you read a recent post and really liked it, or heard me speak, or heard about me. Or that we share the same off-beat interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or you’re a vegetarian moving to Boston who wants the inside scoop on restaurants. Just don’t use any line that involves how cute my profile picture is, or that, as two Red Sox fans, we need to be friends. Those tricks are so five years ago.

Honesty

A risky concept, I know, but bear with me. Think back to why you’re trying to friend me, what made you decide to seek out a connection. Then tell the truth! You read an article and want to learn more? Congratulations, honesty and flattery! Even if the truth is that you just want to build up your network, and we have some mundane interest in common, use it. A boring introduction is better than no introduction, and even if it doesn’t pique my interest, it at least clues me in.

Creativity

Also called lying. Usually applies if you have some dastardly plan for our online friendship, or you’re too embarrassed to say you have a crush on me. Or want to pick my brain for free advice. Or stalk me for your friend, the ex I blocked. Whatever the reason, you can’t ‘fess up to the real reason fcrosyou’re asking to connect, so you need to make up a not-so-scary reason I will say yes to. The “people you may know” and “suggested friends” features are great for this; just blame it on a technological glitch. Some of the greatest relationships in history started by accident or coincidence.

(See, you believed me, didn’t you? Sucker.)

These tips play a little bit differently depending on which social network you are using, but they can adapted for anything. If we’re talking LinkedIn, stick to flattery and connectivity, or a little white lie about work, as it’s more a professional scene. On Facebook, anything goes, so you can impress me a little bit with your creativity and our shared love of Cherry Coke. And on Twitter, you don’t need to introduce yourself, but it’s still nice to say hi and why you want to keep track of everything I do. Especially if you want a follow back.

You don’t have to go crazy, but just take a minute to write a sentence or two about who you are and why I should add you. It’s quick, easy, and sets us up for a much better relationship where we might actually talk. And if you happen to be one of those slimy guys at a bar, you might want to apply some of this advice to real life as well.

Have a great excuse for connecting with someone you don’t know? Share it in the comments!

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