It'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.
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.
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?
On 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.