Contributor: Bryan Kramer
There’s something about connecting with others, sharing stories, laughs, and great conversation that feeds the soul, and that’s why so many of us are drawn to social media. In essence, social is the ultimate online cocktail party. It mirrors our real-life encounters, but without the distance and physical limitations that can erect barriers to human connection.
We can decide whether we want to be active in the ongoing conversation or just watch and listen and sip a beverage (without worrying about slopping a drink on someone’s shoes).
In some ways social is even better than a physical cocktail party; we can connect with more people than we could in person, and the conversations we have there can help nurture relationships established in person by reminding us of our shared experiences in the physical world.
However, there’s a sense of anonymity that can get in the way of online communication. It’s really true that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and when we can’t see each other in a conversation, we can’t pick up on those visual body language cues that are so important in physical encounters. So how do we keep that personal connection real?
My friend Ted Rubin says that to get around the anonymity of social media we need to look people in the eye digitally, which means using digital tools and commonsense manners to reach an emotional rapport with whoever you’re speaking to.
Here are my top five social cocktail party rules:
1. Don’t just introduce yourself and walk away. In any networking situation (either in-person or online), there are pretty much two types of people. The ones who are there to shake as many hands as possible (the card hunters), and those that are there to have a meaningful dialogue with a handful of new people (the conversation gatherers). Socially speaking, the meaningful conversations are what build rapport and foster relationships.
2. Let the ice melt. Downing your drink just leaves you with an empty glass, a cold hand, and brain freeze. In other words, a quick social conversation won’t get you very 74 far, so enjoy the process of getting to know someone. Sit back and sip that drink. Let the ice melt until it breaks. Perhaps you’ll find something in common with a new connection that you might have missed moving on. In social, the bar is always open. What’s your hurry?
3. Know who will be at the party. It’s always nice to know who you might meet ahead of time so you can better prepare. One of the very best inventions in social is the hashtag. Following hashtags lets you sort your conversations by relevance, so you know who is driving the topic, who will be there, and what the buzz is well before the party. When you get involved ahead of time, you can jumpstart relationships online that, if you’re lucky enough to connect in person, are that much more fulfilling. (This is critical for me before conferences and events and has personally created some of the most flourishing relationships of my life).
4. Create party lists. I never walk away from a great conversation without listing them somewhere so I don’t forget our exchange. This is vital (especially if you’re not using a social CRM) as there is no way you can track every one of those conversations without putting them in a place where you can remember to visit with them again. It’s contact management for social.
5. Be first to call. Just like in dating, there can be that “call me” dance after you meet someone new via social. My advice? Don’t wait for them to call. Visit them and let them know you’re there. I promise it won’t make them think you’re desperate. Social is about sharing great information and letting others know when you like something they’ve shared with you. Maybe something great was said that you want to follow up on and ask a question about. For me, my favorite thing in the morning right after I wake up is to see that someone took the time to ask a question, send me a thought, or simply retweet something I shared. It feels good, and I try to do the same for others.
Meeting someone at a cocktail party is just the first step—it’s the conversation that comes afterward where the magic happens!
Whether you’re looking to make meaningful connections on your own profiles or you need to inspire your team to humanize your brand online, everyone should get a refresher on social networking etiquette before joining the party.
Adaptation from SHAREOLOGY: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy (Morgan James, 2015) by Bryan Kramer , CEO of PureMatters.
Bryan Kramer is one of the world’s foremost leaders in the art and science of sharing, and has been credited with instigating the #H2H human business movement in marketing and social. With over 300K social fans and followers, and an intimate understanding of the intricacies and interworking of both social technologies and social behaviors, Bryan is both a practitioner and authority on the subject. Bryan’s first book There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human #H2H rose to the #1 top selling spot in Business Books on Amazon in its first week. His second title, Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy was released in July 2015.