The Social Networking Courtship

by Paul Castain on April 27, 2011

You scan the room cautiously and there, like a diamond in the ruff is someone you feel compelled to approach. Mustering every ounce of courage, you walk bravely across the crowded, noisy room, rehearsing your lines and getting yourself “in the zone” It all seems rather surreal, (like in Wayne’s World when Wayne approached Tia Carrere to the theme of “Dream Weaver”). You confidently tap this person on the shoulder, look them in eye and say “We don’t know each other, but would you marry me?”

I’ll let you finish the story in your own “Theater of the mind” style, but I’m guessing in this case the guy doesn’t get the girl?

In the spirit of beating up the obvious . . . Why?

Aside from not knowing each other, there has been no conversation, no establishing of mutual likes/dislikes, a first date, trust and about a million other elements which comprise a relationship.

All in all, a ridiculous scenario but not too uncommon if you ask me. I not only see it every day on Social Networking venues, I’ve been the receiver of these proposals.

Some examples of what I’m talking about:

Someone “@” me on Twitter several times wanting an appointment to discuss my company’s social media strategy. Innocent enough, but I don’t know this person, our paths have never crossed, we have never shared “tweets” or have had any interaction. Probably not a good initial contact strategy, but to each their own.

When you accept someone as a “friend” and they immediately launch into a sales pitch.

You’re in a group discussion on Linkedin and someone sends you a private email about how their company is the bestest company in the whole world and can help you with that thing you happen to be discussing.

There’s a change taking place in the way many people want to do business. It wasn’t so long ago, that two people would do business with each other and the relationship would form after the transactions began. That’s when you would really get to know them. That’s when this crazy thing called “trust” would enter the picture. The trend now seems to be the exact opposite. People want to get to know you, and trust you on that type of level BEFORE doing business with you.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not talking about due diligence. That’s always existed. I’m talking about the relationship part of the process. It really seems to have been front ended to a much higher degree.

I believe there are several reasons for this:

Our current economy has buyers more concerned with risk than ever before. A bad choice is viewed as “raising your hand in class” and the fear is that they could be the next person cut from the organization.

Its easier and safer to begin online. It’s easier in that there’s an immediacy in Googling, checking a profile, a blog etc. If someone has an online presence, they have in essence, “left a trail” for us to learn about them. It’s safer in that we can sort of “lurk” anonymously.

Its safer in that if we become “friends” and if for some reason there becomes a discomfort in that “friendship” we can un friend, unfollow, ignore, delete etc.

There is a huge cultural shift due to more and more Generation Y’s moving into decision making/influencing positions. They prefer more online, virtual interaction as part of their process.

We can go on and on, but I think you get the point.

So here’s the million dollar question folks . . .

If what we’re talking about here is in fact a “courtship”, how do you “court” your network or should we just say screw it and elope?

To learn more about how you can hire Paul Castain as your coach . . . click here!

Previous post:

Next post: