Social Media is all About Relationships: Are YOU Being Selective?

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

LinkedIn logoIt's all about relationships in many businesses in the off-line world. The folks with whom we associate and network, and the manner in which we do so, can help grow our particular business, sell a product, lead to other relationships, and more. Having relationships with a variety of people will help us with referrals in our business, as we all know, and is far easier than cold calling or spending tons of money on finding new prospects through lead generation site and various gimics.

It is also true, in my opinion, that the perception others have of us, based on our associations and relationships, is also key. Like it or not, humans tend to draw certain conclusions about what they perceive, in the absence of concrete information (such as knowing someone personally). Is that not where some stereotypes and misperceptions arise? And in the realm of social media, where "friends" are often people we do not actually know personally but only on-line, the possibility of misperceptions is far more likely. And possibly more insidious. 

New relationships start with shaking hands

Are YOU selective in your on-line relationships and your associations?

It might be something you want to consider, especially in the age of on-line friends, who aren't really friends in the traditional sense. But that's OK, depending on who they are.

Some time ago I wrote a post about how it's who we associate with, with a focus on adding folks to our list of associates on ActiveRain, associating through the groups on AR, and similar issues tied into our associations. I believe it's still relevant today. As an example, even without stepping outside of AR, have you considered how you can grow your referral business, both inbound and outbound, by the different ways you can associate and develop relationships in our ActiveRain network? You should. I have referred out at least 10 buyers or sellers as the result of AR relationships, and have received about the same number. My AR relationships have enabled me to build a phenomenal referral database around the country. 

I suggest that our on-line relationships are becoming even more important in the burgeoning social media world, and on-line can be an easier way to create and maintain those relationships. If you are not fostering your on-line network through multiple social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, RSNLink, Broker Agent Social, to name only a few) you are missing a tremendous opportunity. Many of us know that and are working diligently to expand our relationships, with fellow real estate professionals and consumers. 

If you are game, you can connect with me on LinkedIn; or become a friend on Facebook; or...

Follow Jeff Dowler on Twitter

But are you selective? And shouldn't you be? 


  • Do you give any thought to whom you associate with and how that on-line friendship might be perceived by others? 


  • With whom you connect with or ask to be your friend? 


  • And on what basis do you decide that someone IS ok to connect with, or to follow? 

Far be it from me to tell you who should become friends with on Facebook, allow to follow you on Twitter, connect with on LinkedIn, or what groups you should join on AR or on any of the popular social media sites. You will just have to make that choice yourself based on whatever criteria you deem relevant. 

But I would consider how the folks you link up with on-link, no matter what they are calling that relationship, might be perceived, AND what that relationship says about you. Whether consumers, other business owners, people you know or want to know, or peers and colleagues in the real estate business, people who are also linked with you, or who might consider doing so by looking at your profile, will no doubt consider the groups you belong to and the folks you associate with, in addition to what you say on-line. The wrong associations might be harmful.

Twitter seems rampant, at times, with spammers, who have no other interest that collecting followers or following as many as they can. Many seem to get caught and their accounts terminated, thankfully. Not a day goes by when I don't get a note about being followed, only to click on that person's profile to see it has been suspended for suspicious activity.

There are some also who are actively promoting their businesses and want to follow, and be followed by, as many folks as possible, but they rarely tweet or participate in conversation.

And the ones who are making money on-line (on Twitter and elsewhere) and with multiple accounts are annoying as well, with their attempts to get you to follow; making the choice to not follow, or even blocking them, seems a smarter course of action. 

And there are others whose Avatars are, might I say, risqué, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate in my mind. I don't want to associate with those folks, nor would I want others who follow me to see that I have. What perception might that create? 

Connecting and building relationships on-lineOn the other hand, being connected with certain folks who are leaders in our business or in technology, or who are well known in the social media world, may send a very positive message to others.

In today's social media frenzy, with seemingly constant requests to connect, being selective in who you begin a relationship with and who you do not seems a wise thing to do. There's nothing wrong with linking up with someone you do not know, or becoming a friend with a person whose profile or tweets interest you. Many of our off-line relationships start off with folks we do not know but find interesting.

But without knowing who is watching us on-line in many cases, and with profiles being visible to all, being selective in our social media relationships can convey create the perceptions we would like others to have of us and avoid those unpleasant impressions that may haunt us in unknown ways.

The Internet is unforgiving. Don't forget it.


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Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

I have had the most enjoyment out of StumbleUpon.  If you vary the things you present as your favorites, people start to follow you and will also read your blogs and look at your YouTube stuff.  I like Stumble more than any other social site.

I confess I still don't get twitter.  I don't really care to know who is walking their dog or going to Starbucks, and I don't figure they care about whether or not I've had my nap for the day...:-) is a really good one for SEO purposes.  I don't think they "no-follow" links like most do.

Another good one is Realty World on  They have a great music player that you can either download your own songs or pull them off the web as it searches for you.  I've made some awesome music collections for my personal blogs and MySpace.

Feb 24, 2009 12:45 PM #19
Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

Hi Jeff--

I think this is a really important issue!  There are so many sites and sooo many people contacting us that don't know us.  I ended up blocking someone recently who thought he was on a dating site or something....  I always thought Twitter/Facebook were perfect forums for stalkers!

Feb 24, 2009 01:11 PM #20
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Jeff: Great points and important to remember. If someone I don't know "follows" me or wants to link up or connect, I always check their profile and whom else they are associating with. If I don't like what they have to say, then I don't connect.

The ones that really creep me out are the men who are following 200 or 300 people, and every single one of them is a woman. Sorry, that's not a club I want to be part of!

Feb 24, 2009 01:47 PM #21
Bo Kociuba
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Mustang, OK
Realtor - Mustang, Yukon & OKC Metro 405-812-1572

Jeff...we have to be selective, indeed...just like in real life we associated with people who we like, have pleasure to be around, enjoy a nice conversation or feel like we have something in common, some kind of a connection...I don't want to have hundreds of strangers in my network I want friends ...

With smiles,


Feb 24, 2009 02:23 PM #22
Bruce & Sandy Soli
Sierra Sotheby's International Realty - Incline Village, NV
Tahoe Lifestyle Experts

I think being smart selective and checking into some of the persons tweets prior to accepting them or finding out what their back ground is before accepting is a good idea.  Can you stop someone from following you?

Feb 24, 2009 02:30 PM #23
Jeff Daniel
John L. Scott Ocean Shores - Ocean Shores, WA
Managing Broker, John L. Scott 360.581.9020

Excellent points Jeff and cool name too. I pulled my Facebook profile for some of these exact items. I'm in the process of setting up a different account that just features my business and not so much my friends....

Feb 24, 2009 02:56 PM #24
Thomas Tolbert
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Legacy - Savannah, GA

Jeff, very interesting post and member comments.  In my "virtual" friendships and associations, like my "real life" relationships, I like to associate with a wide variety of people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds and enjoy meeting new and interesting people.  Particularly with Facebook I think that too often those of us networking for business may put up a social mask, and forget to be ourselves.  In my opinion, showing who we really are and being open to building new friendships, both business and personal is what Facebook is all about. Not everyone may like us or like all of our friends in our online or our offline relationships and maybe someone won't like a group we belong to but others will. I guess social media really isn't that different from real life after all.

On Linkedin, I usually accept all invitations unless I find their business questionable or think they may be spammers.  Aside from that the broader my Linkedin network the better.  In this business we never know who will open the next door of opportunity.


Feb 24, 2009 04:44 PM #25
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Selling Waterfront in Gladwin & Midland County

I agree with your post and think the need to be careful who with network with is very true.  We are being "judged" by our associations and a professionals working with the public we must be concious of that.  Personally I have never understood what the big deal is about have 5,000 followers on couldn't possibly keep up with that anyway?  But, if you want to follow me (should you decide I am acceptable!)  you can @GladwinRealtor...thanks!

Feb 25, 2009 12:18 AM #26
Janice Cooper
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. ~ C: 609-694-3622 New Jersey - Medford Township, NJ
Broker Associate, ABR, ASP

Jeff, Facebook is fun, but it amazes me what people will put out on a "public" site.  Yes, we all need to be careful of the company we keep.  Isn't that what Mom always said?  : /  ~ JC

Feb 25, 2009 02:36 AM #27
Ana Connell
G & C Properties - Burbank, CA
Burbank Real Estate Agent

Jeff this is sucha timely and well thought out post.


I grapple with this issue almost on a daily basis.  I completely agree with you in that we are a reflection of our associations and have to be careful not to tarnish our brands.

Feb 25, 2009 04:03 AM #28
Kathy Hoggard, Community One Realty, Murrieta, CA


Thank you for some really great info.   Being very new to the whole "blog" thing, I find it extremely helpful. 

Feb 25, 2009 06:02 AM #29
matt mathews
mathews Realty Group - Yucaipa, CA

As a Newbie to the whole social networking media, I, like many, performed my due diligence before I started to open my mouth.  I have yet to make a post. However, I have commented on numerous blog post that at first I thought would be beneficial.  After several months I have discovered one major downside to social networking. Which is;  I can be anyone you want me to be!  I can comment daily about how great your post is. Subscribe to your blog, Tell you what a wonderful person you are (which is what I see the most),  Hopefully, if I'm complementary enough, you will refer business my way. Isn't that the main reason for all of us being here? What about the contrairians point of vew?  Or letting someone know that  their viewpoint and information on that subject matter is incorrect. Did you get insulted?  I have done that several times and have found out that I end up being the last comment made to that post for quite a while.  Why?  Should I not be honest with those that I want to network with? Don't you want to know who I really am?    I'll keep trying, but I gotta say it like it is.  Please don't take it personally. Unless, of course, you always judge a Book by it's cover, rather than by it's content and factual information.  Like I said;  "I can be anyone you want me to be"   Loved your post, I couldn't agree more, Thank You-Thank you very much!!  Elvis has now left the building.  You see?  After writing this, I'm wondering whether I should actually post it.  Let's see what happens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

Feb 25, 2009 07:25 AM #30
Roland Carrillo, PhD - Mortgage Consultant
Cary, NC

Good points.  I am always careful and maybe a little overly cautious when growing my groups.  You might miss some opportunities, but better to not associate with those that are questionable. 

Some people spam, others might have less than stellar reputations or motives.  The same can happen in real life, but there is a lot of anonymity online that leads to uncertainity.  We don't want clients and business partners judging us based on what those we linked in just to expand our network might bring.  I see people with 500+ connections in some places, but 0 referrences or real posts.  Its obvious they invite everyone and barely know them or what they stand for.

Feb 25, 2009 01:25 PM #31
Diane Riffee
Patterson Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE

Hi, Jeff,

That was timely. I find all these sites overwhelming. Who has that much time to sit at the computer reading all these mindless posts?! And I don't like having my Blackberry inundated with junk all day long. If it's not relevant to my business, I'm not that interested. Actually, I find AR too much as I get several emails a week. Am I the only one who feels this way? Twitter seems to be the most annoying as I don't like the idea of someone 'following' me. It's just creepy! I didn't realize you can creat a professional Facebook page in addition to a social one. I do like th idea of reconnecting with friends but sometimes the professional and the personal get too mixed unless you can keep a separate account.


Feb 25, 2009 05:07 PM #32
Samantha Nichols
ERA Belsito and Associates - Plymouth, MA
Massachusetts Real Estate Specialist

I try to connect with people that have similiar interests. It's tough to weed through connections because you never know where the next lead is coming from. I do try to be selective and I don't hesitate to "unfriend" someone if I feel the connection isn't right for me.

Mar 02, 2009 10:04 AM #33
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

I'm afraid to add you as an associate, I might get turned down.

Apr 10, 2009 06:41 PM #34
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

MIke - oh go on.

Apr 10, 2009 06:44 PM #35
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Well, those pages that have only posts of houses are extremely boring.  Most of us want to connect on more personal level. As they say: we like people who are like us. 

Jan 27, 2018 10:18 PM #36
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Yet, Linked In is the only social network where personal is not as  important as work related posts, especially  some kind of achievements. Yet, it is still very important to participate and interact with others. 

Jan 27, 2018 10:20 PM #37
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I agree with you Inna Ivchenko . Good point about LinkedIn - I'm glad that it IS different.


Jan 28, 2018 07:41 AM #38
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The Southern California Relocation Dude
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