I spend an average of three hours per day networking with people online. Granted some of this time is answering emails and reading blog posts, but much of my time is spent networking with people to learn valuable information, techniques, and new tools to pass along to other small business owners and people interested in learning social media. Therefore, it should come to no surprise that I have accumulated a list of things that make it difficult to quickly and effectively communicate with people.
The following is a list of common mistakes I see people make while networking online. If you see yourself or business in ANY of the mistakes below, make an immediate effort to rectify the issue. Your business and social marketing efforts depend on it.
- Missing Gravatar Picture: More often than not, I see missing gravatar pictures next to insightful blog comments. If you take the time to write insightful comments and engage in conversations with other people, you are wasting valuable opportunities to connect yourself and/or company with a network of people. It takes less than a minute to establish your gravatar picture, and in doing so, you show the world that their potential relationship with you is worth 60 seconds of your time.
- Non-Human Gravatar Picture: While on the Gravatar subject, let me suggest that you use a photograph of yourself. A professional, personal, up-close, creative, HUMAN, recent photograph of YOU. Yeah, your hilarious high school photo might be funny to you, but guess what? Social networking isn’t about you. It’s about all the thousands of people you want to engage in conversation. So unless you have a very niche business where a goofy picture of you or your dog is appropriate, don’t make the mistake of missing a great opportunity with your Gravatar picture.
- Missing Twitter Bio: Why bother joining Twitter if you don’t want people to follow you? If you don’t take a few minutes to write something in your bio that tells people who you are, what’s important to you, or why you are on Twitter, don’t expect them to follow you. If you think this isn’t hurting you, guess again. I make it a policy not to follow anyone with a missing bio, and I’m not the only one. It’s fast becoming an online example of being socially inept.
- Contact Info: When I visit blogs and Facebook fan pages, I like to know where the person or business is. It is how I personally connect with people. I remember many of my social network contacts by their city or state. If the information is missing, I have a hard time remembering and connecting with them on a personal level. Why? Concrete information makes it REAL for me. Last week I was tweeting with someone from California, who was on her way to Minnesota with a college friend in MY CITY. Do you think I remember this contact on Twitter? You Bet! So add your business information or at least city/state location to your various sites. (plus, it’ll help with Google results)
- Missing Persons Report: The biggest mistake I see is when people go missing. I tend to gravitate toward the people I’ve gotten to know online, so when it occurs to me that I haven’t seen or heard from them in a long time, it makes the whole process disjointed and inconsistent. Make sure that you make a plan make your social networking “rounds” wherever you get involved. If you have a fan page on Facebook, update it. If you are on Twitter, consistently tweet and follow-up with people. If you join communities such as Ning or industry specific site, go back on a regular basis. If you need to make a plan or write it on the calendar or set aside a specific day/time, do it. It is a mistake to go missing from your social networking contacts.