Technology has been a game changer when it comes to helping us get what we want, when we want – we can have it arrive at our doorstep, our fingertips, or in front of us for coffee, or a happy hour drink. The days of attending after-work networking events, where people stick on a name tag, shake a slew of strangers' hands, collect enough business cards to fill up their pockets, are becoming obsolete, even when we want to connect with industry professionals and investors.
Whether we're looking for a new job, new hires, or new investors to back a company that we've put a ton of our own sweat equity into over the years, it can all be done on a mobile phone, in your pajamas, drinking wine coolers on the couch.
However, with this new ease of making fast online connections, also comes new playing rules. How many emails are too many to send a person you're eager to meet for coffee? Is it okay to friend a potential investor on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and follow them on Instagram?
At the expense of looking too desperate, unprofessional, or on the border of receiving an online restraining order, here are five rules to follow when going online to network.
1. Three Emails Max
You may be determined to get a yes or no response from someone you're reaching out to via email, but keep your cool. Send two follow-up emails max and make sure they are spread out over 7 days. People are busy and email is something that begins to pile up. Eventually, people sort through their email and respond to the requests they are interested in. If you're eager to find out if someone opened your email or it went directly to their spam folder, you can install an email tracking plugin (such as: Mail Tracker) to your inbox.
2. One Social Message
Think about it. How many times do you check your DMs on Twitter and Instagram? You may just skip checking it altogether if you have a history of getting spam messages non-stop.
3. Follow on Your Favorite Social Media Platform
You may think you'll get on a person's radar if you follow them on every single place they are "social" on. You may come off as a stalker if you hit the follow button on all social media platforms at once, so instead do it gradually. Start by following the person on your favorite social media platform and then every week, follow them on one more place.
4. Get an Intro If You Can
Since it's easy to grab the contact information of anyone you want to chat with in the world (sometimes even celebrities) the best way to get noticed or get a response from a person is by introduction. Use LinkedIn to find out who you know is connected with that person and ask them to make an introduction for you.
5. Keep a Distance
If by chance you do notice that the person you want to meet is attending an event that you are also planning on attending, be sure to say hello in person. But be careful of rubbing them the wrong way by saying you knew they were going to be there thanks to their post on their private Facebook page.
Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.
Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!
My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.
And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.
Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.
It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."
Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.