I got hit on on LinkedIn.
It was something to the effect of 'Hey! I know we're complete strangers but I thought you were cute and I wanted to see if you were open to going for coffee?'.
Totally cold, no conversation beforehand. No inquiry into my work, my experience, just right into the pitch.
Which had me all 'Wait. What? Did that just happen?
We had recently connected, with me accepting his invite based on a handful of connections in common. My haphazard approval of his request proved to be a ding-dong move; the dude didn't have a profile picture and his profile itself is scant (#triplewordscore); all red flags in the world of someone not being on this particular channel to grow their career.
So, taking responsibility, I can claim that I did a dumb and didn't vet the request with much attention. Probably because I've been trusting that anyone reaching out is for professional connection's sake...and that I didn't have to bring my top notch creep-o avoidance skills to this particular online community.
Now, I know that social channels DO connect really high-quality individuals with other super high-quality humans and real, true, guts deep love emerges. I've had friends meet their long-term partners through DMs on Instagram. I've got pals who are V in love who met on Twitter.
BUT LINKEDIN? COME ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
My brain has had LinkedIn categorized as a safe, generative, professional, thoughtful, all about leadership, and about giving people a place to generate their subject matter expertise. I've been in dialogues and created online relationships in the name of learning a craft, sharing an insight and celebrating friends celebrating successes. All with no 'vibes' on it.
As I'm writing this, the thought that this could be the core of an even BIGGER conversation about ANY situation some individuals see as 'safe' and others see as an opportunity to push a personal agenda. But perhaps that's another email/blog post/rant. I digress.
SO, I'm not harshing on this dude for feeling courageous enough to ask a bold question to a stranger. He did the self-expression thing which I mean hey, that's what I'm on a soapbox about.
AND. There's loads to learn from this whole situation.
(and this is for all of us—myself included—not just the ballsy LinkedIn dude)
KNOW YOUR CHANNEL.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Stopping to ask four questions before sending any message (regardless of its aim) is a practice that's got more power in it than a Gatorade after a long night of Old Fashioneds:
- WHERE am I writing this?
- WHO am I writing this to?
- WHAT is the intent of this message?
- HOW am I contributing to the person on the other side of this?
It's easy to lose sight of the purpose messaging is meant to serve. It's easy to get in touch with people, say a thing, spit some truth, 'teach' someone something....the list goes on. And in this wild world of online communities and channels and platforms, that ease is only increasing.
AND. The inherent ease of access of our social/digital culture doesn't replace the need to do some research and create a connection with others. Be relevant, offer me something I want to learn or know, engage me in a conversation, share something important or insightful.
For pete's sake...offer some foreplay will ya?!?
Butter me up before you try and knock one outta the park.
Take one hot look around the interwebs today and you'll hear someone talking about building trust with your audience. Heck, it's on the home page of my very own website. Relationship building is at the core of getting anyone to spend time with you - both offline and online. And want them to spend money on ya?
Welp, gotta serve + connect before you sell.
I get that any online community/online channel is becoming more and more personal by the day; more video content is emerging, more engagement's happening, and I'm seeing more thoughtful investment in cultivating conversation + connection to an audience happening.
All this is making me wonder lots of things - right now they're a bunch of half-baked ideas and thoughts around the internet being swallowed up by mindless communication and how any online platform seems to be seconds away from turning into Tinder.
More than anything, it's making me consider how I'm showing up on whatever channel I'm landing on. And you BET it's creating some thoughtfulness around how and what I share or say - without over thinking or suppressing myself, but with a kind regard to the bigger picture of what's happening where I'm flapping my gills.
Side note: for anyone wondering what I said in response:
'Happily committed to a wonderful man so thank you, but no!'
And no, I didn't get an answer. Thank heck.
So whadda ya think? IS every social channel meant for that kind of socializing? Can we keep the intent of a professional channel professional? Is there a place for it all - some kind of both/and situation? Am I totally off base and do I need a 2018 reality check?
Curious to hear your thoughts on this one. Leave 'em in the comments below.
Internet high fives and totally-platonic e-hugs, Jess