‘Do I have to accept every connection request I receive on LinkedIn?’ ‘I haven’t heard back from a company, can I keep emailing them?’ There’s no doubt about it, navigating the way we communicate in the digital world is a tricky business.
As a strategic connector I spend a lot of time talking to people online, and have compiled a list of some of the questions I frequently get asked – I hope my answers are of help and enable you to network effectively using social media and email.
Q. Should I follow back people on Twitter who follow me?
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A. Let’s start by getting rid of the word ‘should’. Every case is different and is dependent on how you’re personally affected. Simple answer: you’re not obligated to follow anyone on Twitter, regardless of whether they’ve followed you. Ask yourself – are they aligned with your brand? Can you assist them in the future? Can they assist you at some point? Decide what the purpose for following them would be, and if there is none, don’t.
Q. Do I have to accept every connection on LinkedIn?
A. Some people throw out invitations to connect like confetti, but you don’t have to accept them. I’m all about taking a strategised approach; I’d rather target five good connections than add 100. If someone has reached out to you on social media, have a think about what their motivation might be and, again, if you can’t see a mutually beneficial business relationship forming, don’t accept.
Q. Do I have to respond to an email even if I’m not really interested?
A. I actually respond to each email and unsubscribe from the irrelevant ones. My response is obviously different according to the situation and whoever sent it. I’m a big believer in never closing doors, so a connection that you might not be interested in now could be one you want in the future and, for this very reason, don’t ignore someone if they’ve reached out to you.
Q. I’ve been asked a question that’s on the personal side. Is it rude if I avoid it?
A. Actually, it’s rude that they asked! You do not have to justify yourself in any way. Your online profile and brand should speak for itself; you can give as much or as little information as you’re comfortable with. In my book, personal questions can be completely ignored. Don’t forget you have the prerogative to delete unwanted messages or, in worst case scenario, block the sender.
Q. I haven’t heard back from a company, can I keep emailing them?
A. This is a tricky one and, again, situational. There is a fine line between being charmingly persistent and pestering. This is where your business intuition is really valuable. Months have passed between my first email and a few of my projects, so be patient. A follow-up email is acceptable, as are a couple of social media interactions to keep on your prospective client’s radar.